The European Space Agency (ESA) is expected to request more funding from its member states to develop the futuristic Ariane 6 launch vehicle. The Additional 230 million euros ($268 million) is meant to hasten the vehicle’s development, which has been hitting snags, consequently pushing the first airlift to mid-2022. According to the director for space transportation at ESA, Daniel Neuenschwander, the COVID-19 lockdowns and technical problems in the cryogenic arm, which links the launchpad to the automobile were some of the causes of the delay in the conclusion of the rocket which was expected to launch late-2020 but pushed to mid-2021.
With the new investment of 230 million euros, this increases expenditure on the development of Ariane 6 by 6 percent. With the increase in the total spending on the Ariane 6 project at over 3.8 billion euros ($4.4 billion), which is expensive compared to its competitor project, SpaceX Falcon, which spent around $400 million to develop. On its initial voyage, Ariane 6 was expected to ferry a few trifling satellites for OneWeb, a communication started in 2012 and planning to provide universal broadband handling utilizing satellite constellations in low Earth orbit. With the company filing for bankruptcy early this year, the contract had to be revised, though, based on Neuenschwander, the firm had made down payments to Arianespace, a launch provider marketing the Ariane 6 services.
Neuenschwander stated that with the changes, they were weighing options of the initial airlift of the Ariane 6, which is expected to be in its A62 structure involving two P120C strap-on boosters. The second launch, scheduled to occur in the A62 design, will ferry a Galileo satellite and Europe’s global satellite navigation system. On the third launch, A64, which is a larger modification of the Ariane 6 consisting of four strap-on boosters, will be used. In the bid to complete the project, the ArianeGroup (Airbus and Safran) responsible for completing the project will be supervising the casting of the P120C boosters expected to be used in the initial flight in early-2021.
By mid-2021, the maiden inert fire assessment of the automobile’s upper stage and transportation of the top and core stage’s test material to the Guiana Space Facility in Kourou, French Guiana, will occur. By the third quarter of 2021, the launch site is expected to have been completed and handed over, commencing the joint phase analysis of the assessment phases together with the transportation of the top and central phases.