ESA’s new heavy rocket, Ariane 6, is ready for its first launch on Tuesday

Ariane 6, the European Space Agency’s next-generation heavy-lift rocket, is scheduled to make its first flight on July 9, ending a year-long gap in Europe’s ability to reach space independently. The launch vehicle, made by ArianeGroup, will replace Ariane 5, which was retired last July after its 117th mission. The launch window opens on Tuesday at 2 p.m. ET (8 p.m. CEST).

Ariane 5 operated from 1996 to 2023 and was ESA’s primary launch system. Ariane 6 was supposed to take over immediately after its predecessor’s retirement, but years of development delays meant it was ultimately not ready in time. As a result, ESA has had to rely on other launch providers, such as SpaceX, to get science missions off the ground in the past year. If all goes well with Ariane 6, Europe will be back in the game. “Ariane 6 marks a new era of autonomous, versatile European space travel,” it said in June, adding that it will “restore Europe’s independent access to space.”

Ariane 6 will launch from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana. It will be streamed on , with broadcast expected to begin 30 minutes before launch.

Leave a Comment