The launch of the Ariane 6 rocket has cleared a significant hurdle on the path towards its maiden voyage in 2020 – qualification tests on the rocket’s Vinci® engine were completed on October 12 in Vernon, France.
The engine, which will power the upper stage of Ariane 6, has the ability to re-ignite as often as necessary. This will allow the rocket to place several payloads into orbit at different locations. ArianeGroup CEO Alain Charmeau said that the first Vinci engine flight model is scheduled to be assembled in 2019.
The qualification campaign featured a series of 20 successful consecutive boosts during a single test of 300 seconds, along with a total engine run time of over 14 hours.
The Ariane 6 rocket is the successor to the Ariane 5 – designers are aiming to create a lighter, more flexible rocket that will come with a lower launch cost. Newcomers to the commercial space industry, including US-based Space X, have used lower priced rocket launches to threaten ArianeGroup’s share of the commercial launch market in recent years.