Ariane 6 performs long duration hot fire test

Ariane 6 hot fire test in Kourou, French Guiana (Credit ESA - CNES - Arianespace - ArianeGroup / Optique Vidéo du CSG - P. PIRON)

On Thursday, November 23rd, the European Space Agency performed its first fully integrated long-duration firing of the Ariane 6 at Kourou, French Guiana.

The test firing was slightly delayed due to a “transient threshold pressure” reading and stopped the initial countdown at t minus 2 minutes and 42 seconds, but their teams worked through the issue and pressed on with the hot fire.

The Ariane 6 Vulcain 2.1 roared to life and fired for just over 7 minutes. the European Space Agency had said the test would last 8 minutes but later said the test was successful.

The Ariane 6 is the successor to the Ariane 5, which recently launched its last mission in July 2023 after flying for the past 27 years.

During the 7-minute test, the Ariane 6 burned nearly 150,000 tonnes of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. The test simulated the duration the first stage would burn during an actual flight and gimbaling of the engine that would control the trajectory of the rocket downrange.

This test marks one of the final steps before the ESA launches the Ariane 6 on its inaugural flight. One last test that still needs to be completed is a long-duration firing of the second-stage engine.

The heavy-lift rocket will be capable of launching up to 20,600 kg into low Earth orbit and 11,500 kg into a geostationary transfer orbit with 4 strap-on solid rocket boosters.

The ESA hopes to launch Ariane 6 in the second quarter of 2024 after originally being intended to fly by 2020, and if the testing continues smoothly, it is highly likely the rocket will make its first flight around the spring of next year.

Do you think the Ariane 6 will take flight early next year, or will more delays occur?

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Ariane 6 performs long duration hot fire test
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