Ariane 6 Rocket Faces Tight Timeline to Meet 2023 Deadline
A task force for the Ariane 6 rocket provided an update on the vehicle’s progress toward first flight on Friday, reporting vehicle assembly is not expected to start until November 2023.
The European Space Agency (ESA) and Arianespace have said that Ariane 6 will make its debut by the end of 2023, but this new update does not leave much time. ESA did not share an updated launch date target with the report.
The report said after the lower and upper stages are transported from France and Germany to French Guiana the vehicle will be assembled starting in November 2023, beginning the inaugural launch campaign. This will include in a full-fledged flight configuration a final dress rehearsal.
An executive at German aerospace company OHB, a supplier for the Ariane 6, told investors this week the rocket will likely launch in the early part of next year, Space News reported.
ESA’s task force includes ESA management, CNES, ArianeGroup, and Arianespace.
ESA included in the report that there was a successful upper-stage hot fire test in January, and the auxiliary power unit performed well.
This month, flight software qualification tests are expected to begin, along with ground combined tests sequence at the launch site in French Guiana.
Arianespace has only one launch remaining for the Ariane 6’s predecessor, the Ariane 5 rocket, after it launched the JUICE space probe on a mission to Jupiter last month.