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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Today the new European Ariane rocket is launched

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The European Space Agency's newest launch vehicle, Ariane 6, is scheduled to launch on Tuesday. If all goes according to plan, it will take off from the space flight center in French Guiana.

The Ariane 6 rocket is scheduled to launch on Tuesday at 8 p.m. Polish time. The flight will be divided into three stages.

In the first phase, the rocket will reach space thanks to the main Vulcain 2.1 engine and two P120C boosters (a booster in a multi-stage launch vehicle increases its launch thrust and payload). This phase will also see the first stage disconnected and the second stage placed in an elliptical orbit located between 300 and 700 kilometres above Earth. This will be done by the Vinci engine, which is to be launched 18 minutes after launch. The second phase will test a new, unique ability of the rocket – restarting the second stage engine. According to ESA experts, this is a difficult maneuver to perform because the fuel will be in microgravity conditions. In order for it to take the right position in the tank, a small auxiliary engine will be launched first, which will provide a small acceleration allowing the fuel to be properly positioned. After completing these procedures, the second stage is to be placed in a circular orbit at an altitude of 580 km. Then – also in the second phase, in three rounds – eight satellites will be placed in orbit and the experiments planned for them will be launched. A 3D printer will be working on board one of them, thanks to which ESA wants to test the possibility of three-dimensional printing in open space. The third phase of the flight is primarily the return. After a long break in operation, the engine of the second stage of the rocket will be restarted. This maneuver will start the deorbiting process. After the second stage crosses the point called NEMO over the Pacific Ocean, two capsules will be released, which will enter the atmosphere on their own. The second stage will burn up during the fall. The NEMO point is located the farthest from any land. It is the ocean pole of inaccessibility.

Ariane rocket ready for launch ESA

Ariane 6 Rocket

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Ariane 6 is 63 meters long with a diameter of 5.4 meters. It was created in two variants – using two or four rocket boosters. In the case of the variant with two boosters, its total mass is 530 tons, while in the variant with four boosters – 860 tons. Its development cost 3.6 billion euros. The payload space of Ariane 6 was designed so that the rocket is highly universal in terms of the mass and size of the payloads. It is to cope with observation, scientific, meteorological, telecommunications or navigation satellites. For example, to the main, large payload, thanks to special adapters, it will be possible to attach smaller, e.g. small satellites, which is to significantly reduce costs.

The rocket is intended to provide Europe with further independent access to space and the ability to launch a variety of payloads into orbit.

Main image source: ESA

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