Why the Ariane 6 launch was a success and what changes for Europe: the video

Screenshot of the Youtube live from the ESA channel. Credits: ESA.

Ariane 6the newest carrier rocket of theEuropean Space Agency (ESA)has successfully completed its first operational missiontaking off on Wednesday July 9th at 9:01 pm Italian time from the European spaceport of Kourouin French Guiana, and managing to release the satellites as planned. The project, carried out by Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Norway, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Romania, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland, is a real game-changer for the European space economy.

This is because the launch of Ariane 6 comes more than a year after the last launch of its predecessor Ariane 5, which left Europe a long time behind. unable to launch large satellites on rockets of its own production. This was not an ideal situation for Europe, which had to rely on Space X’s Falcon 9 and other foreign rockets to deliver its payloads into orbit.

The first launch was an opportunity to test not only the operating systems and the various stages of the rocket, but also to release a loaded with nine small satellites (cubesat) that were released to 600 km from the surface terrestrial approximately 66 minutes after takeoff.

Launch details

The Ariane 6 took off at 9:01pm July 9th from the Kourou base in French Guiana with a delay of about an hour than expected. The delay was caused by a data acquisition problem detected on the ground segment, after the mobile launcher support structure that protected it on the ramp was removed.

Screenshot of the live broadcast from ESA’s streaming channels of the exact moment of Ariane 6 liftoff. Credits: ESA.

After about 2 minutes the separation phases of the various stages of the carrier rocket have begun. The first separation took place for the two boosterswhile the lower stage continued to push the rocket further into space. Subsequently, after about 7 minutesit was first had Main engine shutdown and later the separation of the two main stages. Once separated, the Vinci engine It was turned on to push the upper stage to the target altitude of approximately 600 km.

Screenshot of the live broadcast from ESA’s streaming channels showing the separation phase of the Ariane 6 first stage. Credits: ESA.

As scheduled, approximately 66 minutes After the launch, a series of commands were given for the release at three different times. nine small satellites (cubesat) at an altitude of about 600 km.

The importance of Ariane 6

L’Ariane 6high 63 meterswith a load capacity of up to 21.6 tons in its most powerful version, it was developed by a consortium of 13 countries which includes theItaly led by ESA in collaboration with ArianeGroup, Arianespace and the French space agency Cnes.

It is capable of placing different payloads into orbit at different altitudes thanks to the motor Winmounted on the second stage. Vinci is capable of igniting several times, up to 4, in order to put into orbit satellites at different altitudes on the Earth’s surface.

flight profile first launch ariane 6
Credit: ESA

Ariane 6 is of great importance for the European space economy as it concludes what is defined as “European launchers crisis“, or the inability of Europe to launch large payloads into orbit. Suffice it to say that the Euclid space telescope, ESA’s flagship, was launched by a direct competitor, Space X, due to a lack of alternative heavy European launchers and after negotiations to launch it into orbit via a Soyuz carrier failed due to the Russian-Ukrainian war.