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Europe's New Launcher Takes a Major Step Forward with Successful Long-Duration Static-Fire Test

In a significant milestone for European spaceflight, the European Space Agency (ESA) and ArianeGroup conducted a successful long-duration static-fire test of the Ariane 6 rocket's core stage on November 23, 2023. This crucial test, marking the culmination of years of development and preparation, paves the way for the inaugural flight of Europe's next-generation launch vehicle in early 2024.



Artist's view of the configuration of Ariane 6 using four boosters
Artist's view of the configuration of Ariane 6 using four boosters


The test, conducted at Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, involved igniting the core stage's Vulcain 2.1 engine for approximately eight minutes, mimicking the entire flight sequence of the core stage during a typical launch. This extended duration test was crucial to validate the engine's performance and the overall stability of the core stage under realistic conditions.


During the test, the Vulcain 2.1 engine flawlessly ignited and maintained its thrust for the entire duration, successfully burning through approximately 150 tonnes of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellants. The core stage's structures and systems also performed as expected, demonstrating their resilience to the intense heat and vibrations generated by the engine's powerful thrust.


The successful long-duration static-fire test represents a major breakthrough for the Ariane 6 program and brings Europe closer to its goal of securing independent access to space for satellite launches. Ariane 6 is designed to be more versatile, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly than its predecessor, Ariane 5, and will play a pivotal role in Europe's future space endeavors.


With this critical milestone achieved, the Ariane 6 program is now on track for its maiden flight in early 2024. This launch will carry the ESA-developed Space Rider reusable spacecraft, marking a new era in European space transportation. The success of the long-duration static-fire test is a testament to the dedication and expertise of the ESA and ArianeGroup teams, and it positions Europe for continued influence in the global space industry.


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