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Ariane 6’s first flight is rescheduled for Q4 2023

Ariane 6 press briefing. Credit:
ESA / P. Sebirot

Edinburgh, 21 October 2022. – The European Space Agency-built (ESA) Ariane 6 heavy-lift launch system’s inaugural flight is only to be expected by Q4 2023 instead of the original plan of early 2023, ESA said. Josef Aschbacher, ESA’s Director General, stressed that the initial date was merely a planned date, and it was expected that it might have had to be amended. Several key milestones will have to be achieved in a timely manner for it to become reality, he added.

Aschbacher mentioned three specific milestones, the first of which is the successful completion of the upper stage hot firing test. That campaign has already begun earlier this month at Germany’s DLR aerospace agency. The second milestone will be the hot firing tests of the core stage, which will validate the rocket and launch pad as a unified system. The third is the launch system qualification review which is expected to start by Q1 2023.

Recent Ariane 6 development milestones include fully stacking a test model of Ariane 6 demonstrating that the mechanical interfaces are successful. The next step is to validate the electrical and fluid connections, and to ensure communications between ground infrastructure and the rocket.

The Ariane 6 launcher along with its new facility will help reducing launch campaign time and cost. In addition, Ariane 6 will be flexible and adaptable to different institutional and commercial needs. There are already 29 Ariane 6 launch vehicles on order, despite the launcher never having flown yet.

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