The first launch of the next European rocket, Ariane 6, has been postponed again and is now scheduled to take place in April 2023 at the earliest. ESA boss Josef Aschbacher admitted the delay of another year in a BBC interview, the more precise date now being targeted comes from ArsTechnica, citing an anonymous source. One of the reasons for the delay is a problem with a “cryogenic connection”, which seems to have been solved. Some other preparations were also delayed.
Years of delay
Originally, the first Ariane 6 was supposed to fly into space in 2020, but then there were various delays during the corona pandemic. Officially, the latest delay should be announced in mid-July, writes ArsTechnica. In the meantime, the availability of Ariane 6 is expected more and more urgently, the remaining flights of the predecessor are fully booked and since the beginning of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine there have been even fewer alternatives. During development, there were concerns that the rocket might not be competitive in a largely stagnant market, but that shouldn’t be a concern now.
The Ariane 6 is designed to bring cargo into space more cheaply and is roughly on par with SpaceX’s Falcon 9 in terms of payload. The development, funded largely by ESA, was Europe’s response to increased competition in the launcher market. A continuous transition from Ariane 5 to Ariane 6 was actually planned, but the delays now thwarted the plan. Meanwhile, Russia’s isolation in the space sector has recently ensured that there shouldn’t be a lack of orders, at least. As recently as April, Amazon had booked a total of 18 launches for the “Project Kuiper” satellite internet. It is the largest order in the history of the manufacturer Arianespace.
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