Cinq, quatre, trois, deux, un. Allumage Vulcain! This is the moment Ariane 6’s main engine was sparked into life, and the entire main stage of the new rocket and the many parts of the launch pad in Kourou, French Guiana, practiced for the full duration of a launch. Of course, as planned, the test model did not leave the ground.
Without its boosters, instead of piercing the clouds Ariane 6’ created its own on Earth: a clean byproduct of the Vulcain 2.1 engine’s oxygen and hydrogen propellants, which came together to send out impressive swirls of H2O.
After the almost 150 tonnes of propellant was burnt through and the clouds dispersed, the curtains closed on the successful rehearsal. The data from thousands of monitors around the rocket will be crunched in the coming weeks to learn all that’s needed for Ariane’s next, real, flight.
For more on this test, see Ariane 6’s Hot Fire Rocket Engine Test.
Ariane 6 is a European expendable launch vehicle being developed by the European Space Agency (ESA) in collaboration with ArianeGroup. It is designed to be a more flexible and cost-effective successor to the Ariane 5 rocket. Ariane 6 is intended to maintain Europe’s competitive edge in the global satellite launch market.
There are two main variants of Ariane 6: the Ariane 62, with two solid rocket boosters, and the Ariane 64, with four. This modular approach allows it to cater to a wide range of missions, from delivering commercial satellites into geostationary orbit to sending payloads to deeper space.
One of the key features of Ariane 6 is its use of updated technology, including a more efficient Vulcain 2.1 main engine and an improved upper stage engine, the Vinci. These enhancements aim to increase payload capacity and reduce operational costs.
Ariane 6 is part of Europe’s broader strategy to remain a significant player in the space industry, offering a reliable and versatile launch option for both governmental and commercial customers. The rocket is expected to have its inaugural flight in the near future, marking a significant milestone in European space capabilities.