Europe returns to the space market. Ariane 6 with Polish equipment successfully completes first flight

Luc Williams

Measuring 63 meters high and with a diameter of 5.4 meters Ariane 6 rocket It was created as part of the space flight program conducted by the European Space Agency and ArianeGroup (a joint venture between Airbus and Safran) since 2010. The cost of its construction was 3.6 billion euros.

European space program

The first European space rockets were built in Ariane’s program in the 1970s. Its latest version replaced the Ariane 5, which was withdrawn last year and launched into space 117 times.

Ariane 6 comes in two versions: Ariane 62 with two solid launch vehicles that can deliver up to 10,000 kilograms of payload to low Earth orbit (LEO) and Ariane 64a model with four solid launch vehicles that can carry up to 21,000 kilograms of payload to LEO. Both types of rockets use liquid hydrogen and oxygen for lift.

In the launch vehicle market, Ariane 6 is considered to be in the “heavy” class of launch vehicles such as Falcon9 and Falcon Heavy from SpaceX, Japanese H3Whether Vulcan Centaur American company United Launch Alliance.

Polish participation in Arian 6

The debut flight of Ariane 6 is an ESA demonstration mission. The nearly three-hour flight deployed 11 satellites and spacecraft, and also conducted a key series of tests of the upper stage rocket enginewhich recorded devices prepared especially for this occasion by the Polish company.

Business Scanway from Wrocław equipped the rocket with optical set based on two cameras, whose task was to record key stages of the flight. After about 3.5 minutes from launch, the cameras recorded the separation of the main fairing, and after 66 minutes of flight, they recorded the separation of the satellites being launched into orbit from the main module.

The data collected in this way will help ESA optimize future missions, and the technology itself can also be used in other space missions, e.g. to identify space debris, repair and refuel satellites or assess damage to devices in Earth orbit.

Competition for SpaceX

The first flight of Ariane 6 was delayed by several years. First, technical problems hindered it, which were joined by the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine. Despite the rising costs and long delays, European leaders continue to support the Ariane 6 program, emphasizing the importance of the Old Continent having its own, independent access to outer spaceinstead of relying on SpaceX and whims Elon Musk. All the more so because Europe has already had to use the services of the American monopolist on the space launch market several times.

SpaceX also does not agree to a monopoly Amazonwhich ordered 97 rocket launches from five companies, almost a fifth of which were won by Arianespace. In the future, Ariane 6 will launch internet satellites from Project Kuiper.


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