There are still many months to go before the very first Ariane 6, the successor to the European Ariane 5 rocket, takes off. "The launch window for the maiden flight is set between 15June and 31July 2024," Josef Aschbacher, Director General of the European Space Agency (ESA), announced on Thursday. This first launch is crucial: it should make it possible to qualify the new European heavy launcher and give Europe independent access to space, which it has been deprived of since June 2023, with the take-off of the last Ariane 5 and with the unavailability of Vega C, a new version of the small Italian rocket, until the end of 2024 (after the failure of its first commercial flight at the end of 2022).
This announcement, the result of a joint decision by ESA, CNES and ArianeGroup, the rocket's manufacturer, is a relief. Ariane 6 is four years behind schedule. Josef Aschbacher believes that 30 November is "a great day for Europe's space industry
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