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6 things to remember about the first flight of Ariane 6

© ArianeGroup

Ariane 6 would have been kept waiting until the last moments, but yesterday around 9 p.m. French time, the rocket ended up leaving the earth from the Kourou launch pad in French Guiana. The two booster boosters as well as the Vulcain central engine played their role perfectly, allowing the 8,600 tons of the rocket to take off.

A complete success

There were a lot of fears yesterday in Paris at the CNES center, and even in the Kourou control room. Everyone was confident, but they couldn't help but think the worst for this rocket, as there were so many unknowns. Finally, despite a one-hour delay following an alert during a routine check, the rocket left Earth.

Ariane 6 is the new launcher from ArianeGroup and its mission can now begin. Overall, this first flight went excellently. The control center did not report any particular problem. All 18 passengers on board during takeoff have returned to orbit.

Successful delivery

Because Ariane 6 was not traveling alone. The European rocket carried with it 18 passengers under its fairing. Its mission was to deposit them in different orbits. A maneuver made possible by the use of the Vinci re-ignitable engine on the second stage of the rocket.

This technical innovation, which was sorely lacking on Ariane 5, allows the rocket to deposit several different payloads into orbit. During this first flight, 18 scientific experiments and microsatellites reached orbit. In the future, payloads should be more prestigious.

A reassuring first flight

It’s a great sigh of relief for the whole of Europe. The first flight of Ariane 6 swept away all fears about possible reliability concerns within the rocket. While its development was years behind schedule (particularly due to Covid-19), Ariane 6 finally saw the light of day. It works very well today.

For Europe, the return of a European rocket to the launcher market offering access to space is very valuable. The old continent will be able to use Ariane 6 in the coming years to launch spy, military satellites and other missions that require a certain amount of space sovereignty.

Europe can blow

For more than a year, Europe was deprived of this possibility. The old continent had to wait between the last mission of Ariane 5 and the first of Ariane 6 this Tuesday evening. But now that time is over. Ariane 6 is gaining ground again and the rocket seems to have the shoulders to respond to the various demands emanating from the old continent.

Besides the obvious strategic interest for Europe, the takeoff of Ariane 6 last night from Kourou helps remind the whole world of some truths. The old continent is not dead, it is still capable of reaching space and flying rockets. It will be a fierce competitor to SpaceX, RocketLab and other companies entering the space market.

Ariane 6, the new Ariane 5

With a first flight without the slightest hitch, Ariane 6 reignites the torch of Ariane 5. The old rocket, now retired, was capable of flying dozens of times without encountering the same technical problem. She was the most reliable launcher of her time.

Many hoped that Ariane 6 would be able to emulate her. If this first flight does not allow us to be certain of foolproof reliability, the rocket is nevertheless off to a very good start. It must now continue flights with the same success, to regain the title of “most reliable rocket in the world”, owned by Ariane 5 for years.

What to expect now?

ArianeGroup is not SpaceX, we should not hope for a new flight in a few weeks. On the contrary, the company will take its time to analyze the numerous data collected. Once this first, long, stage of reflection and correction has been completed, Ariane 6 will be able to return to service.

In the corridors of the company, we hope that a second flight will be possible before the end of the year, but there is no guarantee today that ArianeGroup will meet the deadlines. The company has made no official announcement regarding a second flight. She is not expected to speak on this subject for several weeks.

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Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116