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European Space Agency and Arianespace launch Ariane 6 rocket
Space Travel and Exploration Tech
Jul 9, 2024
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Space Travel and Exploration Tech

Space Travel and Exploration Tech

Jul 9, 2024

European Space Agency and Arianespace launch Ariane 6 rocket

Industry news

  • The European Space Agency (ESA) and Arianespace launched the Ariane 6 rocket on July 9, 2024, from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, at 3:01 p.m. EDT. The launch comes after several postponements from its first expected launch in 2020 and the ESA's preparations earlier in July 2024 ahead of its launch.

  • The Ariane 6, built by ArianeGroup and its subsidiary Arianespace, is powered by a single Vulcain 2.1 engine (an improved version of Ariane 5's Vulcain 2). Its upper stage comprises one Vinci engine. The Ariane 6 comes in two variants: A62 and A64, which, according to ESA, can deliver about 11.4 tons and 23.8 tons to low-Earth orbit, respectively.

  • European space officials confirmed that Ariane 6 delivered nine cubesats to orbit, including two of NASA's Cubesat Radio Interferometry Experiment (CURIE). They were deployed 370 mi above Earth about 65 minutes after the liftoff as planned. However, Ariane 6's upper stage did not complete the required burn, and it could not deploy the two reentry capsules about three hours into the flight as planned. ESA reported it was due to an auxiliary power unit (APU) failure.

  • European officials have confirmed that the Ariane 6's payload capacity is comparable to that of the Ariane 5 but is about half the price of its predecessor due to manufacturing improvements. The Ariane 6, like the Ariane 5, is expendable; however, the Falcon 9 is partially recyclable, with its first stage returning to Earth for recovery, refurbishment, and flight.

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