ArianeGroup has begun the production of the first batch of 14 Ariane 6 launchers, which are designed to replace the Ariane 5 rockets.

Arianespace entered an agreement with ArianeGroup to start manufacturing the first series-production batch of the launchers across the European space industry.

The Ariane 6 rockets will be built at ArianeGroup’s production facilities in France and Germany. A total of 13 countries are taking part in the Ariane 6 programme.

The company’s European industrial partners will also build some of the initial launchers at their plants.

The 14 launchers are anticipated to fly between 2021 and 2023. Ariane 6 is part of a European Space Agency (ESA) programme.

“Ariane 6 will be able to offer an increasingly varied range of missions to satisfy the expectations of its institutional customers and address new trends in the commercial market.”

ArianeGroup is the prime contractor responsible to carry out the development and operation of the Ariane 5 and Ariane 6 launchers.

The development contract for the launchers with ESA was signed in August 2015.

How disruptive will the COVID-19 outbreak be on aerospace supply chains?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Ariane 6 features two variants, namely Ariane 62 and Ariane 64. Arianespace noted that the first launch of the Ariane 62 version is scheduled for 2020.

Furthermore, ArianeGroup is manufacturing the model to be used for ground qualification tests on the launch pad in French Guiana and the Ariane 62’s first flight vehicle.

ArianeGroup CEO André-Hubert Roussel said: “We have made the necessary efforts to set up a new, more efficient and competitive European industrial organisation in record time. We can now ensure the ramp-up of Ariane 6 production and prepare for its launch operations.

“I am particularly grateful to the teams at ArianeGroup, Arianespace, and our industrial partners throughout Europe who – each in their area of responsibility – work hand-in-hand to make the development, production, and marketing of the launcher possible.”

While the Ariane 62 version comprises two P120 solid fuel boosters, Ariane 64 has four P120C solid fuel boosters.

Arianespace Missions, Operations and Procurement executive director Luce Fabreguettes said: “Thanks to its 62 and 64 versions and the re-ignitable Vinci engine, Ariane 6 will be able to offer an increasingly varied range of missions to satisfy the expectations of its institutional customers and address new trends in the commercial market.”