Ariane 6 Launch Complex Inaugurated at Europe’s Spaceport

A time lapse was filmed under the stars on the Ariane 6 launch base at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana. (Credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace)

KOUROU, French Guiana (ESA PR) — The new launch complex built for Europe’s upcoming Ariane 6 rocket is inaugurated at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.

With this, ESA celebrates another important milestone in the Ariane 6 roadmap as it forges ahead with combined tests between launch vehicle and launch base and preparations towards the first launch campaign.

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ESA Council Agrees Resolution on Ariane 6 and Vega-C Exploitation and Future Space Transportation

Artist’s view of the European launcher family. Shown from left to right: Ariane 5, Vega, the two-booster Ariane 6 (A62), Vega-C, the four-booster Ariane 6 (A64). (Credit: ESA – D. Ducros)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA Member States have agreed upon the boundary conditions for Europe’s upcoming exploitation of Ariane 6 and Vega-C and request ESA to propose a roadmap for new and innovative space transportation solutions for the next decade and a framework for associated short cycle demonstrations.

The Resolution agreed upon by ESA Member States mid-August sets the conditions for the first three years of stabilised exploitation of Europe’s new launch vehicles, Ariane 6 and Vega-C at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana. 

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ArianeGroup wins ESA’s “ASTRIS” Competition for More Versatile Ariane 6

Astris kick stage for Ariane 6. (Credit: ArianeGroup)
  • In the framework of the Ariane 6 Competitiveness Improvement Programme, the European Space Agency has appointed ArianeGroup as prime contractor for the development of a complementary stage for Ariane 6, the “ASTRIS” kickstage.
  • ArianeGroup development activities are worth €90 million [US $106.2 million]
  • Developed by ArianeGroup in Germany, ASTRIS is a true additional stage, called a “kick-stage”, that will further increase the versatility of Ariane 6 and enhance performance for new types of mission
  • Powered by the BERTA engine with storable propellants, ASTRIS will increase the capability to inject satellites directly into geostationary orbit (GEO), allow electrically-powered satellites to reach their orbits in a few hours instead of in a few months, and facilitate missions to the Moon and deep space
  • The first Ariane 6 mission equipped with the ASTRIS kick-stage is scheduled for 2024

BREMEN, Germany (ArianeGroup PR) — The European Space Agency (ESA), as part of its Ariane 6 Competitiveness Improvement Program, has chosen ArianeGroup to develop and build a complementary stage (kick-stage) for Ariane 6, called ASTRIS, which will enable Arianespace, operator of the new European launcher to place with even greater efficiency a larger number of payloads in different orbits, or to inject satellites into geostationary orbit (GEO).

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Ariane Ultimate Project Looks Toward Launchers of 2040

Ariane Ultimate (Credit: CNES)

PARIS (CNES PR) — What will the launcher look like the day after tomorrow? It is far too early to tell, but CNES is already working to imagine the disruptive technologies that will make it fly.

In the field of launchers, you have to know how to look far ahead. While the qualification of Ariane 6 has entered its final phases, its successor Ariane Next is envisaged for the 2030s, and reflections for the post-2040 are well underway with the Ariane Ultimate project . At this stage, it is still only a concept, that is to say a pool of new technologies which are in an embryonic state but which we want to make mature by this time, in order to develop a launcher that must be carbon neutral, fully reusable and at almost zero marginal launch cost. It is also a question of projecting on the new uses of space in the coming decades as we can imagine them on this horizon: for example the need for high speeds to reach the low orbits which could serve as hubs of exchange towards the Moon or towards Mars. 

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New PHOEBUS Contract Paves Way for Development of Future Lightweight Composite Rocket Stages

MT Aerospace and ArianeGroup signed contracts with ESA on 14 May 2019 to develop Phoebus, a prototype of a highly-optimised black upper stage. (Credit: ArianeGroup)
  • ArianeGroup signs a new contract with ESA as lead contractor for the PHOEBUS project. This European Space Agency program aims to further the development of composite technologies, notably for the future upper stage of Ariane 6
  • The future “black” carbon composite upper stage, called ICARUS (Innovative Carbon ARiane Upper Stage), will be lighter than the current metal upper stage and will further enhance the versatility and competitiveness of Ariane 6 in the next few years
  • This contract, worth 14,6 M€, follows on from the first contracts signed in May 2019 and will confirm the technological maturity of the PHOEBUS demonstrator

MOULINEAUX, France (ArianeGroup PR) — The European Space Agency (ESA) and ArianeGroup, lead contractor and design authority for Ariane 6, have signed a new technological development contract in the field of carbon composites. The PHOEBUS (Prototype of a Highly OptimizEd Black UpperStage) program will increase the maturity of the technologies needed to lower both the manufacturing cost and the weight of the Ariane 6 upper stage. The goal is thus to improve its performance (in particular, an increased payload capacity of about two metric tons to geostationary transfer orbit), and to validate a new stage architecture.

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New ESA Contracts to Advance Prometheus and Phoebus Projects

Prometheus rocket engine (Credit: ArianeGroup Holding)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA is forging ahead with advanced developments in two flagship space transportation demonstration projects, Prometheus and Phoebus. This will benefit Europe’s new Ariane 6 launcher in the near-term, and prepare for a new generation of European launch vehicles in the next decade.

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Arianespace Offers a Ticket into Space to a Startup or Lab

  • Arianespace is launching a contest for satellite projects by space technology startups, labs or universities, in conjunction with the Viva Technology 2021 (VivaTech) innovation show.
  • The winner will get a free launch of their satellite on an Arianespace rideshare mission.
  • The main selection criterion will be the satellite’s mission, which should improve life on Earth or advance human knowledge.

EVRY, France (Arianespace PR) — Arianespace, the European launch services company, is Arianespace, the European launch services company, is organizing a contest in conjunction with the VivaTech international innovation show. First prize will be a spot on a rideshare mission operated by Arianespace, to orbit the winning cubesat-sized satellite.

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EUMETSAT, Arianespace Confirm Launch of Two Meteosat Third Generation Satellites with Ariane 6

Artist’s view of the configuration of Ariane 6 using four boosters (A64) (Credit: ESA – D. Ducros)
  • Arianespace and EUMETSAT signed an update of their Launch Services Agreement for two Meteosat Third Generation (MTG) satellites.
  • The sounder satellite MTG-S1 and the imager satellite MTG-I2 will be launched with Ariane 6, the next generation of Ariane family of launchers.
  • Arianespace will also place into orbit the MTG-I1 satellite with an Ariane 5 launcher by the end of 2022. The launch orderbook includes two more state-of-the-art meteorological polar satellites as well as one additional launch, still in option.

EVRY-COURCOURONNES, France, March 23, 2021 (Arianespace PR) — Today, at the occasion of the World Meteorological Day, EUMETSAT and Arianespace signed an update of their Launch Services Agreement for two Meteosat Third Generation (MTG) satellites. Through this updated agreement, Arianespace is confirmed by EUMETSAT to launch the sounder satellite MTG-S1 and the imager satellite MTG-I2 with Ariane 6, the next generation of Ariane family of launchers.

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ESA Awards Space Transportation Study Contracts with ArianeGroup, Avio & Rocket Factory Augsburg

RFA One launcher in flight (Credit: Rocket Factory)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Space transportation technologies are intrinsically complex, some needing long development cycles of up to a decade. For this reason, ESA is seeking early insights into long-term trends and potential evolutions in all application domains taking into account the needs of future programmes currently under preparation.

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Ariane 6: First Upper Stage Ready for Hot-fire Testing

Ariane 6 second stage (Credit: ArianeGroup)
  • The first complete Ariane 6 upper stage has just left the ArianeGroup site in Bremen, where it was developed and integrated, for hot-fire testing on the German Aerospace Center (DLR) site in Lampoldshausen
  • This delivery represents a major step in the development of the new European Ariane 6 launch vehicle; its inaugural flight is scheduled for the second quarter of 2022

BREMEN, Germany (ArianeGroup PR) — The first complete upper stage of the new Ariane 6 launch vehicle has just left the ArianeGroup plant in Bremen, Germany. The stage is now complete, with its two liquid hydrogen and oxygen tanks connected to the new re-ignitable Vinci engine and equipped with all lines, valves, and electronic and hydraulic instrumentation and control systems. It is now fully operational, following final assembly in October 2020 and successfully undergoing all functional testing (hydraulic, electrical, and avionics) at the ArianeGroup site in Bremen. This stage, called the Hot Firing Model (HFM), will now be transported from Bremen to Lampoldshausen in Baden-Württemberg, for hot-fire testing at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) facility.

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ArianeGroup, CNES Sign Agreement on Prometheus Testing

Prometheus rocket engine (Credit: ArianeGroup Holding)

PARIS, January 14, 2021 (ArianeGroup PR) — Following the visit to the ArianeGroup site in Vernon by President of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron, Minister of the Economy and Finance Bruno Le Maire, and Minister for Overseas France Sébastien Lecornu, ArianeGroup CEO André-Hubert Roussel and CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall signed an agreement preparatory to the testing of the new Prometheus rocket engine at the Vernon site in Normandy.

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ESA, CNES Sign Contract to Maintain and Modernize Spaceport

Vega and Ariane 5 launch pads at Europe’s Spaceport. (Credit: ESA–Stephane Corvaja)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA will contribute to the maintenance, operations and modernisation of Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana over the period 2020–24.

At the ESA Council meeting on 16 December, a contract for the ‘Maintenance of the Guiana Space Centre launch range in operational condition for the period 2020–24, including core launch range renewal activities’ was signed by Jan Wörner, ESA Director General and Jean-Yves Le Gall, President of CNES, France’s space agency.

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Vega Launcher: Full Support for the Return to Flight Activities From Italian and French Institutions

Vega takes off on its 17th flight on Nov. 16, 2020. (Credit: Arianespace webcast)

ROME (Avio PR) — After the yesterday meeting in Rome, the Undersecretary of State with responsibility for Space Riccardo Fraccaro and the French Minister of Finance with responsibility for Space Bruno Le Maire, issued a joint statement highlighting the full institutional support to the Ariane and Vega programmes, with particular regard to the return-to-flight of the Italian launcher designed and produced by Avio S.p.A. with the ESA (European Space Agency) mandate.

The support was also reiterated by the Italian Interministerial Committee for Space and Aerospace Policies.

The full statement is below

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Thales Alenia Space to Build Copernicus CHIME Satellites

Copernicus Hyperspectral Imaging Mission (CHIME) satellite. (Credit: Thales Alenia Space)

CANNES, France (Thales Alenia Space PR) — Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture between Thales (67 %) and Leonardo (33 %), announced today that it has signed a 90 million euro [$106.5 million] first tranche contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) to design and build the 2 environmental monitoring satellites of the Copernicus Hyperspectral Imaging Mission for the Environment (CHIME), the global amount being 455 million euros [$538.5 million].

The CHIME mission is part of the expansion of the Copernicus Space Component programme of the European Space Agency, ESA, in partnership with the European Commission. The European Copernicus flagship programme provides Earth observation and in situ data and a broad range of services for environmental monitoring and protection, climate monitoring, natural disaster assessment to improve the quality of life of European citizens.

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Ariane 6 Launch Delayed to Second Quarter of 2022

Artist’s impression of Vega-C launcher in flight. (Credit: ESA-Jacky Huart)

Vega-C and Ariane 6 are being developed by ESA to assure Europe’s independent access to space. The maiden flight for Vega-C is planned to take place in June 2021, that for Ariane 6 for the second quarter of 2022.

PARIS (ESA PR) — Solid progress is being made on both Vega-C and Ariane 6 development programmes. Since March, some technical events and the COVID-19 pandemic have both impacted the progress of activities. Uncertainty from COVID-19 still persists globally to date.

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