Ariane 6 is an expendable launch system that ArianeGroup has been in development for the European Space Agency (ESA) since the early 2010s. It is intended to replace the Ariane 5. The stated goal of Ariane 6 (as of the year 2015) was to halve the cost of Ariane 5 while also increasing the number of deployments annually (from 6 or 7 to up to 11).
The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Director General Josef Aschbacher announced on June 13 that the Ariane 6’s maiden flight, which had been planned for the close of the year 2022, will occur in 2023. During a BBC interview, Aschbacher noted that Ariane 6 is going to launch “some time” in the year 2023, without providing an explanation for the delay.
Arianespace said just a few weeks ago that it was planning the first launch for the close of 2022 from Europe’s spaceport facility based in Kourou, French Guiana. Inquiries that were directed to the ESA by Arianespace (ESA), which did not reply to calls for comment right away.
Ariane 6 was supposed to launch in 2020, but it was pushed back due to the COVID-19 epidemic. There are two models of the next-generation launcher: Ariane 64 with 4 boosters and Ariane 62 having two boosters. They will replace Europe’s heavy-lift Ariane 5 and Russia’s medium-lift Soyuz rockets, respectively.
In the mission which follows Ariane 6, Arianespace aims to install satellites for Europe’s Galileo navigation system. Viasat and Amazon’s Project Kuiper megaconstellation are among Ariane 6’s commercial customers. Europe is also working on Vega C, a successor to its modest launch vehicle Vega.
As per a June 7 ESA media invitation, Arianespace will launch the Vega C for the first time from Kourou on July 7 at 7:13 a.m. Eastern. In a recent SpaceNews interview, Giulio Ranzo, the Italian rocket builder Avio CEO, which is the prime contractor for Vega and an Ariane 6 subcontractor, discussed the development schedules for both launchers.
During the BBC interview, Aschbacher also stated that Europe had “not decided what will occur or [what] will be the future” of the mission of ExoMars rover that it had collaborated with Russia.
After halting collaboration with Russia in reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, he stated ESA is “working with NASA to see if they could be a collaborator on this project.”
He did emphasize, however, that no decision had been taken about how to continue with the scientific endeavor. ExoMars was originally scheduled to launch in September aboard a Russian Proton rocket, with a Russian landing platform delivering the ESA-developed Rosalind Franklin rover to Mars’ surface.
Jorge Vago, ESA’s ExoMars project scientist, stated he had doubt regarding a new lander would be ready by 2026 and that the rover’s launch would be postponed until at least the year 2028 at a 3rd May meeting of NASA’s MEPAG (Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group).