The inaugural Ariane 6 launch is scheduled for the first half of July

WASHINGTON – The first launch of the Ariane 6 rocket is expected to take place in the first half of July, as the vehicle takes shape at the launch site in French Guiana.

The European Space Agency announced on May 21 that the joint team working on Ariane 6, including ESA, prime contractor Ariane Group, launch services provider Arianespace and French space agency CNES, expects the inaugural launch of Ariane 6 to take place in the first two weeks of 2017. 2019. July.

That’s in the middle of ESA’s previously announced time frame of somewhere between mid-June and the end of July. The European Space Agency said a specific, albeit tentative, date for the launch will be announced at the ILA air show in Berlin, scheduled for June 5-9.

The update was the first revision to the launch date since November 2023, when ESA announced a mid-June to end-July window. Officials previously said they would provide an update on the launch after completing a qualification review scheduled to end in late April.

In its latest update, ESA said it completed the qualification review on April 29. Workers have also begun stacking the rocket itself, attaching its two solid rocket boosters to the core stage. The upper stage and payloads will be installed in June before a fueling test and training countdown called a wet rehearsal scheduled for June 18.

While the European Space Agency has not yet provided an update on Ariane 6 launch dates, executives at two major suppliers said they believed the launch was on schedule. “It seems to me that we are headed in the right direction for a flight in July,” Aveo CEO Giulio Ranzo said of Ariane 6 on a May 9 earnings call. Avio produces the solid rocket motors used in the Ariane 6 boosters.

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“We are very confident that Ariane 6 will launch within the known launch period from mid-June to the end of July,” OHB CEO Marco Fox said on his company’s May 8 earnings call. “I think the preparations are going very well.”

Joseph Aschbacher, Director General of the European Space Agency, described the first launch of the Ariane 6 vehicle as “the big event of the year” for Europe in the field of space during the session of the thirty-ninth session of the conference.y Space Symposium in April. A successful flight of the long-awaited Ariane 6 would help ease the “launch crunch” that has forced the European Space Agency and the European Commission to buy many Falcon 9 launches from SpaceX. This includes the scheduled May 28 launch of EarthCARE, a joint Earth science mission between ESA and JAXA, aboard a Falcon 9 aircraft from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

But at the Space Symposium, Aschbacher set expectations for that first flight. “Statistically, there is a 47% chance that the first flight may not be successful or go exactly as planned,” he said, citing a track record of first launches of new large launch vehicles. “We will do everything we can to make it a successful trip but I think it is something we have to take into account.”

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