The European Space Agency (ESA) has revealed the launch date of the next-generation Ariane 6 rocket.
According to an ESA statement released on October 19, 2022, the first Ariane 6, a new heavy lift launch system, is expected to take off for its inaugural mission in Q4 of 2023.
However, before the estimated launch, the agency still needs to achieve a few critical milestones, including the completion of the Vulcain 2.1 rocket engine hot firing test campaigns and the review of the launch system qualification. The tasks should be completed by Q1 of 2023.
The European Space Agency
“With a project of this magnitude it needs to be clear that this is a planned date and the program will still need to make the successful and timely achievement of several key milestones for this schedule to remain valid,” the ESA director general Josef Aschbache said. “What is at stake here is European independent access to space. We are all fully committed to proceeding as speedily as possible to the launch pad.”
Developed by ArianeGroup, a joint venture of European plane maker Airbus and French engine manufacturer Safran, the Ariane 6 is intended to replace an older generation Ariane 5 heavy-lift space launch vehicle.
It will the second maiden launch of an ArianeGroup rocket in recent times. In July 2022, the Vega-C, another small rocket developed by the manufacturer, successfully completed its first mission.