European Space Agency (ESA) has shared a new vision of the Ariane 6 rocket on its launch pad ahead of engine tests this month. The photo, shared on June 23rd, shows the rocket on the launch pad at the European spaceport in French Guiana. It is the first view of Ariane 6 standing vertically on its ESA launch pad. The rocket has been in development since the early 2010s and is intended to replace Ariane 5, providing customers with low-cost access to space.
The Ariane 6 rocket is undergoing preparations for a series of engine ignition tests. The mobile building that protects the rocket while on the launch pad will also be removed. As part of this process, the mobile doors are opened, and the entire vehicle is moved on special tracks.
“The operation, lasting about half an hour, was a trial run in preparation for a series of tests of the Vulcain 2.1 engine” ESA officials stated. “These test launches will be conducted on the launch pad as part of the preparations for Ariane 6’s maiden flight”.
The Ariane 6 rocket is used exclusively for testing assembly procedures, electrical and fuel connections, and telemetry and is not intended for flight. The procedure of removal from the mobile gantry and its return, for the first time, helps validate the rocket’s ground infrastructure.
New Assembly Method
Rocket was built in Europe by ArianeGroup on behalf of ESA. The core and upper stages of the rocket were shipped to French Guiana and assembled horizontally. The rocket was then moved to the launch pad, where the vehicle was lifted vertically inside the gantry before attaching the solid fuel boosters. This is the first time an Ariane rocket has been assembled horizontally. This procedure, according to officials, reduces launch times and costs.
Ariane 6’s debut flight was originally scheduled for 2020. Since then, it has been delayed several times, and the latest launch target is the second quarter of 2024. The rocket features an upper stage called Vinci, which can carry satellites to various orbits and altitudes. It is designed to autonomously deorbit and burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere.”