The Ariane programme – Europe's access to space
The new European Ariane 6 launcherThe new European Ariane 6 launcher is scheduled to launch for the first time in 2022 and will guarantee Europe’s independent access to space in the future. Just like its predecessors, Ariane 6 will be a ‘dynamic’ launcher that is intended to evolve continuously.
65th launch of Ariane 5On 28 September 2012, an Ariane 5 rocket was successfully launched from the European Spaceport in Kourou for the 65th time.
In order to provide Europe with independent access to space, a number of European states decided to commence the Ariane programme in 1973. It has since become one of the most successful European technology programmes and Germany has been an important partner from the very beginning. As part of both European and German space strategy, space transport continues to play a central role today. The overall goal is to provide a reliable, flexible and competitive European launcher system. The Ariane programme fulfils this purpose and provides a powerful launcher in the form of the Ariane 5. The programme is accompanied today by the Vega small launcher and Russian Soyuz rockets, which, like Ariane, launch from Europe’s spaceport in French Guiana.
Ariane 5 – the world’s most reliable launcher
Ariane 5 has the best reliability record of all regularly deployed launchers. In operation since 1996, it is specially designed to transport payloads weighing up to 10 tonnes into Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO) in dual launches. In the market segment of launch services for telecommunications satellites, this European launch system now has a share of over 50 percent. Not only has Ariane 5 launched over 100 satellites and spacecraft, but it also carried the European Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) space freighters into orbit to rendezvous with the International Space Station (ISS). In addition, it is now scheduled to launch one of the most prestigious space missions of all time, the James Webb Space Telescope that has been constructed by NASA, ESA and CSA. At the end of 2021, the successor to the famous Hubble Space Telescope will take off from French Guiana on board an Ariane 5.
The Ariane 6 programme – securing Europe's independent access to space
At the ESA Ministerial Council Meeting in December 2014, the member states decided to develop the new Ariane 6 launcher. This decision represents an important milestone. For the Ariane launcher system to remain successful in international competition over the long term, it must not only be further developed technically, but also be able to be operated cost effectively. A prerequisite for this was a restructuring of the European launcher sector. Responsibilities, costs and risks will be shared in future between ESA and the European space industry. In this way, launch costs will be reduced by approximately half compared to Ariane 5.
This cost reduction and the modernisation of the proven Ariane system are important advantages during the current rapid changes in the commercial launcher market, which new participants are increasingly entering. For Ariane 6, many components draw on the experience and technologies of Ariane 5. Designers are combining existing components that have proven reliable with new elements. This will make it possible to complete the development of a new rocket system within a few years. The first flight of the approximately 60-metre-high Ariane 6 launcher is planned for 2022.
The launcher configuration of the new Ariane 6 uses the propellant combination of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen in both the lower and upper stages. The new lower stage is technologically based on the 'old' lower stage of Ariane 5 but is designed to be cost-optimised. The upper stage is a modification of the new upper stage already envisaged for Ariane 5ME, with the re-ignitable Vinci engine. Depending on the configuration, Ariane 6 can transport five or eleven tonnes of payload into GTO; it can be equipped with either two or four solid-propellant boosters. It is being constructed by the European space company ArianeGroup.
Ariane 6 – DLR ready to test first upper stageOn 14 February 2021, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) will receive the first upper stage of the European Ariane 6 launcher. The fully functional test module will be subjected to extensive testing at DLR's Lampoldshausen site over the coming months.
8th Industrial Days at the DLR site in LampoldshausenThe first launch of Ariane 6 is now within reach. The decision to build this new European launcher was taken six years ago. It will be launched in two versions and will be more flexible and cost-effective than its predecessor, Ariane 5. But is that enough?
New test stand for Ariane 6 upper stage at DLR LampoldshausenThe future European launcher, Ariane 6, is scheduled to lift off for the first time in 2020. To ensure that all its payloads can be safely transported into orbit, the engines for the new launcher must first undergo extensive testing. An important step in the upper-stage testing of the new launcher was taken on 26 February 2019
Latest Galileo satellites head for space on European Ariane 5 launcherOn 25 July 2018 at 13:25 CEST (08:25 local time), four more satellites for the Galileo civil European navigation system will be launched into space on board an Ariane 5 launcher from the European spaceport in Kourou (French Guiana). The Galileo ‘family’ will have 26 members with the addition of ‘Tara’, ‘Samuel’, ‘Anna’ and ‘Ellen’, each of which weighs the same as their predecessors – 715 kilograms. “All of the satellites will orbit Earth at an altitude of 23,222 kilometres. Accordingly, our constellation is almost complete and can now ensure almost complete global coverage with Galileo signals,” reports René Kleeßen, Galileo Programme Manager at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) Space Administration in Bonn.
First ignition for Europe's most powerful rocket engine, the Vulcain 2.1The new Vulcain 2.1 engine, which is set to carry the new European launcher Ariane 6 into space in 2020, is intended to achieve greater efficiency at lower costs. However, before such a launch can be successfully carried out, the development engines must prove that they can cope with the enormous 130-ton thrust, temperatures of approximately 3000 degrees Celsius in the combustion chamber, the high rotational speeds of the turbo pumps and the pressure in the propellant lines.
Anja KabothCorporate Communications LampoldshausenGerman Aerospace Center (DLR)
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Denis RegenbrechtGerman Aerospace Center (DLR)German Space Agency at DLR
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