30 million horsepower

Ariane 6: Europe’s super rocket launched into space

09.07.2024 21:15

Europe's space industry can finally breathe a sigh of relief! The new European launcher Ariane 6 has been launched into space for the first time. It lifted off from the European spaceport in Kourou in French Guiana (South America) at around 9 p.m. (CEST) on Tuesday evening. 

At the control center of the European Space Agency ESA in Kourou, there was boundless jubilation after the successful launch.

Europe had to wait ten years for this
After ten years of waiting, Ariane 6 is to free Europe's space sector from the crisis in its launcher sector. Ariane 6 is the successor to Ariane 5, which was in service from 1996 until summer 2023.

(Bild: AFP/Jody Amiet)
(Bild: AFP/Jody Amiet)
(Bild: AFP)
(Bild: AFP/Jody Amiet)
(Bild: AFP/Jody Amiet)
(Bild: AFP/Jody Amiet)
(Bild: AFP/Jody Amiet)

Technology from Austria on board
Ariane 6 is intended to launch satellites into space for commercial and public clients and is significantly cheaper than its predecessor. Technology from Austria is also on board. For Josef Aschbacher, the head of ESA, who comes from Tyrol, Ariane 6 marks a new era of autonomous and versatile space travel.

Ariane 6 should actually have been launched in 2020. But there were repeated delays. This put European space travel in great difficulty.

56 meters high and weighing 540 tons
13 European countries, including Austria, were involved in the construction of the rocket, which is 56 meters high and weighs 540 tons. For example, the company Beyond Gravity Austria supplied the high-temperature thermal insulation for the drives and the high-tech company TTTech contributed parts of the data network. Each Ariane 6 generates a turnover of around 500,000 euros for Austrian companies, according to the Austrian Research Promotion Agency FFG in the run-up to the launch.

"The trend is great"
The weather expert at the spaceport, Anne-Sophie Chassagnou from the French space agency CNES, is optimistic that the launch could go ahead as planned. "The trend is great." The expert is checking whether thunderstorms or strong winds could get in the way of the flight. If this is not the case, the scaffolding currently surrounding Ariane 6 will be removed to expose the rocket.

(Bild: ESA)
(Bild: picturedesk.com/EMMANUEL DUNAND / AFP / picturedesk.com)
(Bild: picturedesk.com/ESA-David Ducros)

The decision to develop the rocket was made a decade ago. Aschbacher is convinced that the rocket still meets the current challenges. ESA praises Ariane 6 as modular and flexible. Depending on the mission, it can be equipped with two or four boosters and accommodate different payloads in a smaller or longer upper section.

However, space expert Martin Tajmar from TU Dresden believes that despite the innovations compared to the predecessor of Ariane 6, the rocket is by no means up to date. Back in 2015, the US company SpaceX ushered in the age of reusable space travel with the Falcon 9 rocket.

This article has been automatically translated,
read the original article here.

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