Cool Time-Lapse Reveals Horizontal Assembly of Ariane 6 Rocket

Cool Time-Lapse Reveals Horizontal Assembly of Ariane 6 Rocket

The European Space Agency is gearing up to test a new rocket to add to its fleet. A test model of the Ariane 6, which is set to become ESA’s new vehicle for getting payloads into low Earth orbit, is undergoing assembly in French Guiana in anticipation of its first launch next year.

Ariane 6, the next generation of ESA rockets, will be replacing Ariane 5 as the agency’s choice method of getting payloads into geostationary transfer orbit and low Earth orbit. Ariane 6 is still a ways away from its scheduled 2023 launch, but in the meantime, ESA is prepping Ariane 6 for testing, as seen in a newly released time-lapse video captured at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.

The time-lapse shows an Ariane 6 booster being wheeled through the spaceport, as the rocket’s central core is transported to the launch pad. The Ariane 6’s central core was assembled horizontally — a first for ESA — as this is a simpler and cheaper approach than assembling it vertically, according to the space agency. The core is then lifted upright and lifted into place amongst the boosters in the spaceport’s mobile gantry.

The 60.05 m-tall (60-metre) launch vehicle will come in two configurations; the Ariane 62 will feature two boosters while the Ariane 64 will be equipped with four. Ariane 62 is expected to primarily serve government and science missions, while Ariane 64 will be more suited for commercial applications.

The launch vehicle will weigh around 900 tons when equipped with a full payload, and ESA says that that the Ariane 6 can host both small and heavy payloads for applications like Earth observation, telecommunication, and navigation. Ariane 6 will be capable of lifting 4.5 tons to Sun synchronous orbital (SSO) altitudes reaching 500 miles (800 km), and upwards of 10.5 tons to geostationary transfer orbits (GEO).

Previous testing of the Ariane 6 has occured throughout the summer and fall ahead of its unspecified 2023 launch, with inspections in September on an assembled Ariane 6 to test the compatibility of the completed vehicle’s parts. Fingers are crossed that this rocket finally gets to fly next year.

More: Japan’s Epsilon-6 Rocket Forced to Self-Destruct With 8 Satellites On Board.

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