The first two Ariane 6 upper stages are being built in ArianeGroup’s new integration hall in Bremen, before testing begins early next year, with first flight scheduled for between June and December.
The European Ariane 6 launch vehicle’s upper stage is equipped with the Vinci engine, which can be re-ignited as often as necessary to place several payloads into orbit during a single mission.
ArianeGroup officially openeed the integration hall, a 6,000 m², 21m high building during October.
Ariane 6 is a European Space Agency program with ArianeGroup the design authority and lead contractor for the launcher’s development and operations.
The first of the upper stages will be sent for test firings to the new DLR test bench inaugurated last February in Lampoldshausen, Germany. The second will join the other components of the launcher in Kourou, French Guiana, for combined testing of the launcher and the ELA-4 launch pad prior to the inaugural flight during the second half of 2020.
Pierre Godart, CEO of ArianeGroup in Germany said, “I am delighted to celebrate the inauguration of the Bremen integration hall as Ariane 6 development enters the final stretch. The qualifying phase for a first flight in the second half of 2020 has begun. This success demonstrates that Bremen is a crucial center of competence for the European space industry.
The first flight model of the Vinci engine for the first launch of Ariane 6 is already in integration at ArianeGroup’s Vernon site in France, while the ArianeGroup Ottobrunn, Germany site is currently working on the combustion chambers for the Vinci and Vulcain 2.1 engines for the 2 launchers scheduled to fly between 2021 and 2023.