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Ariane 6

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Title: Ariane 6  
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Subject: European Space Agency, Ariane 5, Ariane M, Haas (rocket), Aldebaran (rocket)
Collection: Ariane (Rocket Family), European Space Agency, European Space Programmes
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Ariane 6

Ariane 6
Function Medium-heavy launch vehicle
Manufacturer Airbus Safran Launchers
Height 70 metres (230 ft)
Diameter 4.6 metres (15 ft)
Mass 500,000–800,000 kilograms (1,100,000–1,800,000 lb)
Stages 2
Payload to
A62: 5,000 kilograms (11,000 lb)
A64: 10,500 kilograms (23,100 lb)
Associated rockets
Family Ariane
Launch history
Status In Development
Launch sites Guiana Space Centre

Ariane 6 is a launch vehicle under development by the European Space Agency (ESA). If developed, it will become the newest member in the Ariane launch vehicle family. The final design was selected by the ESA ministerial-level meeting in December 2014,[1] favoring a liquid fuel with solid rocket boosters design over the initial solid fuel design.[2]


  • Development History 1
    • ESA-CNES variant 1.1
      • Market positioning 1.1.1
    • Airbus and Safran counter proposal 1.2
      • Criticism 1.2.1
    • September 2014 proposal 1.3
  • References 2

Development History

ESA-CNES variant

Ariane 6 PPH cutaway drawing

In 2012, detailed definition studies were funded.[3][4] ESA projected that it would decide in 2014 on full funding, which if funded, could lead to a launch as early as 2021. The chairman the German Aerospace Center commented that while building Ariane 6 in a single location would be much more efficient, it would "no longer [be aa] European launcher. It [would be] a French or German launcher. Therefore, the discussion about industrial distribution is one of the core questions for the next launcher in Europe. It is hard stuff."[3]

A new launch pad location in French Guiana was selected by May 2013, and completion of the Ariane 6 design in July 2013 was expected to enable design of the launch pad to commence. The French government space agency (CNES) was aiming, as of 2013, to launch the Ariane 6 a minimum of eight times each year, with a goal of supporting up to twelve annual launches.[5]

As of May 2013, the target "production and operations cost "for the launch system [was] 70 million Euros per launch, a 30% reduction in the cost of launching an equivalent 6.5 tonne payload on the Ariane 5, although this is not necessarily the launch price at which Ariane launches will be offered to launch customers.[5]

In July 2013, the first flight of the Ariane 6 was projected to be as early as 2021–22,[6] and development was projected to cost €4 billion, as of May 2013[7] However a 2014 study concluded that development cost could be reduced to about 3 billion Euros by limiting contractors to five countries.[8]

Market positioning

While the Ariane 5 typically launches one large and one medium satellite at a time, the ESA proposal for Ariane 6 is intended for single payloads of up to 6,500 kilograms (14,300 lb) to Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO), for a price of approximately US$95 million.[9] The SpaceX Falcon 9 and the Chinese Long March 3B both launch smaller payloads but at lower prices, approximately US$57 million and US$72 million respectively, with the Falcon 9 launch of a mid size satellite competitive with the cost of the lower slot of a dual payload Ariane 5. For lightweight all-electric satellites, Arianespace intends to use the increased performance and restartable Vinci engine of the Ariane 5 ME and Ariane 6 to deliver the satellites closer to their operational orbit than the Falcon 9, significantly reducing the time required (several months for an all-electric satellite from a standard GTO) to transfer to geostationary orbit.[9]

Airbus and Safran counter proposal

In June 2014 Airbus and Safran surprised the ESA by announcing a counter proposal for the Ariane 6. They also announced a 50/50 joint venture to develop the rocket. This joint venture would also involve buying out the French government's (CNES's) interest in Arianespace.[10][11]

This proposed launch system would come in two variants:[12]

These Ariane 6 configurations would be compatible with the existing ESA launch vehicle fleet: the heavier Ariane 5 ME and lighter Vega, while also providing higher modularity than the alternative design initially proposed by ESA.


French newspaper La Tribune questioned if Airbus Space Systems could match promised prices when costs for the subcontractors are on a raise, and whether Airbus and Safran Group could be trusted when they were found to be responsible for a failure of Ariane 5 flight 517 in 2002 and a more recent 2013 failure of the M51 ballistic missile.[2] The companies were also criticized for being unwilling to take the risks of development and asking for higher initial funding than originally planned to start development - €2.6 billion instead of €2.3 billion. Proposed launch prices of €85 million for Ariane 6.1 and €69 million for Ariane 6.2 were also deemed too high by the La Tribune in comparison to SpaceX[13] During the meeting of EU ministers in Geneva on 7 June 2014 these prices were deemed too high and no agreement with manufacturers was reached.[14]

September 2014 proposal

After the meeting of ESA, CNES, DLR, Airbus and Safran in September 2014 a new, alternative proposal was presented by France. It was proposed that a new launcher could be available in 2020 that would be simpler and significantly cheaper than Ariane 5.[15] The proposal project that it could come in two versions:}[15][16][17]

  • Heavy, with 4 P120 solid rocket boosters, Vulcain 2 liquid engine main stage and Vinci upper stage capable of lifting up to 11 tonnes to GTO with single and dual launch capability and a price of €85 million
  • Light, with 2 P120 boosters and identical core and upper stages, capable of lifting up to 7 tonnes to GTO in a single launch for €65 million

The September 2014 proposal, unlike Ariane 6 PPH, offered a scalable launcher, retaining dual-launch capability, and the same time offering roughly half the price per kilogram of Ariane 5 ECA compared to only a 30% decrease in the projected case of Ariane 6 PPH. The proposition also included simplification of the industrial and institutional organization along with a better and cheaper version of the Vulcain 2 engine for the main stage.[15][16] Although Ariane 6 was projected to have "lower estimated recurring production costs" it was projected to have "a higher overall development cost owing to the need for a new, Ariane 6-dedicated launch pad."[18]

The Italian, French and German space ministers met on 23 September 2014 in order to plan strategy and assess the possibility for agreement on funding for the Ariane 5 successor.[19]

The final design was selected—and the development project was approved and funded—in December 2014,by a ESA ministerial-level meeting in December 2014.[1]


  1. ^ a b Peter B. De Selding (2 December 2014). "ESA Members Agree To Build Ariane 6, Fund Station Through 2017". SpaceNews. Retrieved 3 December 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Michel Cabirol (7 July 2014). "Faut-il donner toutes les clés d'Ariane 6 à Airbus et Safran?" (in French). La Tribune. Retrieved 5 August 2014. 
  3. ^ a b Stephen Clark (21 November 2012). "European ministers decide to stick with Ariane 5, for now". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 22 November 2012. 
  4. ^ Jonathan Amos (23 November 2012). "Ariane rocket ready to do battle". BBC. Retrieved 23 November 2012. 
  5. ^ a b de Selding, Peter B. (2013-05-24). "With Ariane 6 Launch Site Selected, CNES Aims To Freeze Design of the New Rocket in July". Space News. Retrieved 2013-05-25. 12 flights annually to keep production and operations costs within the targeted 70 million euros ($95 million) per launch [and] is viewed as an all-in cost that would include about 14 million euros per launch in ground operations and also would include the sales and marketing charges incurred by Arianespace. 
  6. ^ "Europe okays design for next-generation rocket". PhysOrg. 9 July 2013. Retrieved 9 July 2013. 
  7. ^ de Selding, Peter B. (2013-05-24). "With Ariane 6 Launch Site Selected, CNES Aims To Freeze Design of the New Rocket in July". Space News. Retrieved 2013-05-25. Ariane 6 would fly in 2020 assuming a development go-ahead in 2014. CNES’s Ariane 6 team is operating under the “triple-seven” mantra, meaning seven years’ development, 7 metric tons of satellite payload to geostationary transfer orbit and 70 million euros in launch costs. CNES estimates that Ariane 6 would cost 4 billion euros to develop, including ESA’s customary program management fees and a 20 percent margin that ESA embeds in most of its programs. 
  8. ^ Peter B. De Selding (18 March 2014). "Questions Swirl around Future of Europe's Ariane Launcher Program". SpaceNews. Retrieved 23 March 2014. 
  9. ^ a b Svitak, Amy (2014-03-10). "SpaceX Says Falcon 9 To Compete For EELV This Year". Aviation Week. Retrieved 2014-03-11. As SpaceX and other launch contenders enter the sector—including new rockets in India, China and Russia—Europe is also investing in a midlife upgrade of the Ariane 5, the Ariane 5 ME, which aims to boost performance 20% with no corresponding increase in cost. At the same time, Europe is considering funding a smaller, less capable but more affordable successor to the heavy-lift launcher, the Ariane 6, which would send up to 6,500 kg (14,330 lb.) to GTO for around $95 million per launch. 
  10. ^ de Selding, Peter (2014-06-20). "Airbus and Safran Propose New Ariane 6 Design, Reorganization of Europe’s Rocket Industry". Space News. Retrieved 2014-06-11. European space-hardware builders Airbus and Safran have proposed that the French and European space agencies scrap much of their previous 18 months’ work on a next-generation Ariane 6 rocket in favor of a design that includes much more liquid propulsion. 
  11. ^ Ariane 6: Customers call the shots (BBC, July 5, 2014)
  12. ^ "Safran-Airbus Group launcher activities agreement". Safran Group. 2014-06-25. Retrieved 2014-07-15. 
  13. ^ Michel Cabirol (7 July 2014). """Privatisation d’Ariane 6 : comment Airbus et Safran négocient le "casse du siècle (in French). La Tribune. Retrieved 5 August 2014. 
  14. ^ Cyrille Vanlerberghe (8 July 2014). "Le choix d'Ariane 6 divise industriels et agences spatiales" (in French). Le Figaro. Retrieved 5 August 2014. 
  15. ^ a b c "France raises heat on decision for next Ariane rocket". EXPATICA. 18 September 2014. Retrieved 18 September 2014. 
  16. ^ a b Cyrille Vanlerberghe (5 September 2014). "Ariane 6 : la version de la dernière chance" (in French). Le Figaro. Retrieved 18 September 2014. 
  17. ^ "Ariane 6".  
  18. ^ "ESA’s Ariane 6 Cost Estimate Rises with Addition of New Launch Pad". Space News. 2014-09-24. Retrieved 2014-09-26. 
  19. ^ "ISS Expected To Take Back Seat to Next-gen Ariane as Space Ministers Meet in Zurich". Space News. 2014-09-22. Retrieved 2014-09-22. The space ministers of France, Germany and Italy are scheduled to meet Sept. 23 in Zurich to assess how far they are from agreement on strategy and funding for Europe’s next-generation Ariane rocket, upgrades to the light-lift Vega vehicle and — as a lower priority — their continued participation in the international space station. The meeting should give these governments a better sense of whether a formal conference of European Space Agency ministers scheduled for Dec. 2 in Luxembourg will be able to make firm decisions, or will be limited to expressions of goodwill. 
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