European built rocket launches with slight hiccup | Watch IMAGEEuropean built rocket launches with slight hiccup | Watch IMAGE

European built rocket launches with slight hiccupAfter years of delays, the European Space Agency’s Ariane 6 rocket launched on July 9, but not without a hiccup. Despite this, the ESA plan for the rocket to stay in service, hoping it will be used to take satellites and technology into orbit.

Europe’s Ariane 6 Rocket Launches Successfully on Inaugural Flight

Europe’s new heavy-lift rocket, Ariane 6, successfully made its much-anticipated debut from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana at 8 pm BST on July 9, 2024. The Ariane 6, the latest addition to Europe’s prestigious Ariane rocket series, is designed for versatile missions, ranging from low-Earth orbit tasks to deep space exploration.

The inaugural flight, designated VA262, showcased Ariane 6’s capabilities. Although it was a test flight, it carried several non-human ‘passengers,’ including satellites and research experiments intended for space. Exactly one hour after liftoff, at 9:06 pm BST, the first set of satellites was successfully released into an orbit 600 km above Earth. These satellites and experiments were contributions from various space agencies, companies, research institutes, universities, and young professionals.

The successful launch also validated the new custom-built launch pad and operations at Europe’s Spaceport. The next Ariane 6 launch, planned for later this year, will mark its first commercial flight under Arianespace.

This milestone demonstrates Europe’s ongoing commitment to advancing space exploration and technology, setting the stage for more ambitious missions in the future.

Europe’s Ariane 6 Rocket to Make Its Long-Awaited Debut

After four years of delays, Europe’s new Ariane 6 rocket is finally set to blast off on Tuesday, carrying the continent’s hopes of regaining independent access to space. The European Space Agency’s (ESA) most powerful rocket yet is scheduled to launch from Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, at 3 pm local time (1800 GMT).

Since the last flight of its predecessor, Ariane 5, a year ago, Europe has been unable to launch satellites or other missions without relying on competitors like Elon Musk’s SpaceX. Many are now eagerly watching the launch, hoping it will mark the end of a challenging period for European space efforts.

Historically, nearly half of the first launches of new rockets have faced failure. This includes Ariane 5, which exploded moments after liftoff in 1996. However, out of its 117 launches over nearly 20 years, only one other flight failed. The team at the Kourou launch site, surrounded by jungle on the South American coast, is hoping history does not repeat itself for Ariane 6.

“There is an element of risk because it is a first flight, but we have tried to reduce this as much as possible, so we are confident,” said Philippe Baptiste, head of France’s CNES space agency. Tony dos Santos, the ESA’s Kourou technical manager, added that the teams on the ground would only “breathe our first sigh of relief when the first satellites have been released” an hour and six minutes after liftoff.

The Ariane 6 launch plan involves a meticulous process to ensure the rocket’s success and to restore Europe’s capability to independently access space. As the countdown begins, the hopes and ambitions of European space exploration are riding on Ariane 6’s successful debut.

Europe’s Ariane 6 Rocket Ready for Launch: A New Era in Space Exploration

From dawn in Kourou, the massive metal structure housing the Ariane 6 rocket will be moved away, revealing the impressive 56-meter (183 feet) giant. Starting at 10 am, the rocket’s tanks will begin filling with fuel. According to Michel Rizzi, ESA’s launch base project manager, any physical intervention from this point would require emptying the tanks and delaying the launch by 48 hours.

Over 200 experts will be concealed in a nearby bunker, closely monitoring the rocket until liftoff, ready to pause the countdown to address any issues. They will maintain constant communication with the Jupiter control room, which serves as the hub for data sent from the rocket.

Security will be tight, with a large number of armed forces, including three fighter jets, ensuring no aircraft interfere with the launch. If technical problems or bad weather arise, there is a four-hour launch window. Assuming all goes well, the rocket’s two boosters and main stage engine will ignite at 3:00 pm local time.

Franck Saingou, Ariane 6 launch system architect, said the numerous rehearsals make it feel “routine — except this time it’s the real thing.”

Europe’s ‘Return’ to Space

The mission will be deemed successful after deploying its payload and having the rocket’s reusable upper stage splash down in the Pacific Ocean. Ariane 6’s maiden flight will carry 17 different “passengers,” including 11 university micro-satellites, re-entry capsules, and small scientific experiments.

A successful flight would signify Europe’s “return” to the space scene, said ESA space transportation director Toni Tolker-Nielsen. This follows a challenging period marked by the withdrawal of Russia’s Soyuz rockets, which were used for European launches at Kourou, and the grounding of Europe’s Vega-C light launcher after a launch failure. Ariane 6’s first flight, initially scheduled for 2020, faced multiple delays, further compounding the crisis.

Ariane 6 is set for one more launch this year, six in 2025, and eight in 2026. Gareth Dorrian, a space science researcher at the UK’s University of Birmingham, noted that “the first launch of any new rocket is always fraught,” but highlighted that Ariane 5, which started with an explosive failure, “went on to become one of the most successful launchers in history.” One of its last missions even launched the $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope into space.

As Europe watches with bated breath, the Ariane 6 launch represents not just a technical achievement but a significant step towards reclaiming independent access to space.


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