“Ariane 6 will fly in 2023, not 2022“, indicated an official of the European Space Agency (ESA) during a press briefing, without further details. A new calendar will be communicated on July 13.
Initially scheduled for 2020, the first Ariane 6 flight had already had to be postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
This new postponement is linked to delays in the test program. “We are making good progress but there are still steps to be taken“, according to ESA. The fire tests of the upper stage of the launcher, whose engine can be reignited, planned in Lampoldshausen (Germany), in particular experienced “difficulties“.”We are now on the home stretch before these tests“, we assure.
The two stages of the launcher, having arrived in Kourou, French Guiana, are also preparing to begin combined tests with the launch pad, another key stage in the system qualification process.
Ariane 6 should make it possible to boost the competitiveness of the European launcher which is facing increasingly fierce competition, mainly that of the American SpaceX.