Ibadan, 24 November 2023. – The European Space Agency (ESA) has announced the successful hot-fire test of the Ariane-6 rocket, passing a major full-scale rehearsal in preparation for its first flight. The test went through a complete launch countdown followed by a seven-minute full firing of the core stage’s engine. The trial, using a test model on the launch pad at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, was the longest ‘full-stack’ run yet for Ariane 6’s lower liquid propulsion module with a Vulcain 2.1 engine.
The test also assessed the launch pad and all the connections between them. The launch pad – which France’s space agency CNES operates– used its water deluge system to temper the heat from the engine. ESA is consequently preparing for a last hot-fire test of the upper stage, and it will tentatively take place in December 2023 at the Lampoldshausen test center from Germany’s DLR aerospace agency.
“The teams from ArianeGroup, CNES, and ESA have now run through every step of the rocket’s flight without it leaving Earth,” commented ESA’s Director General Josef Aschbacher. “This milestone rehearsal comes after years of designing, planning, preparing, building, and hard work from some of the finest space engineers in Europe. We are back on track towards re-securing Europe’s autonomous access to space,” He also added.
The test followed a shorter burn in September when ESA filled Ariane 6’s tanks and briefly ignited the Vulcain 2.1 engine before switching it off (CTLO1). After this, ESA conducted the second test of the series (CTLO2.1), which involved the filling and draining test in October, to check the launch system functions, such as draining fuel in the presence of multiple simulated failures.