The European Space Agency (THAT) announced, Thursday 29 October, than the inaugural launch of the Ariane rocket 6 will be postponed to the second quarter of 2022, when he had already been pushed back once in the second half of 2021. In question : technical difficulties coupled with the consequences of the coronavirus health crisis.
“Ariane's maiden flight 6 is now scheduled for the second quarter of 2022”, ESA Director of European Space Transportation Daniel Neuenschwander said at a press briefing. He explained that “the path to the inaugural flights of the two launchers must overcome technical challenges, in a context of reduced productivity” because of the Covid-19 epidemic.
The official mentioned in particular difficulties in the development of the auxiliary power unit (HELP), a small multi-role reactor, “embarked for the first time in the launcher”, and which should allow “enter the satellite constellation market”.
According to M. Neuenschwander, “the industry will enter a very tense period in 2021-2022” since Ariane's production 5 comes to an end and that of Ariadne 6 will start slower than expected. “We have technical difficulties and the situation has been further degraded by the Covid-19”, a souligné Daniel Neuenschwander.
To get through this crisis, ESA will seek assistance from participating countries, either an extension of 230 millions of euros (6% of the current program envelope) what “hope to get in the next few months”.
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Ariane 6, Launch vehicle, European Space Agency, Rocket, 2022
World news – FR – Ariane 6 : the first inaugural shot postponed to the second quarter 2022