ESA Conducts Successful Engine Tests for All-New Ariane 6 Launch Vehicle

ESA Conducts Successful Engine Tests for All-New Ariane 6 Launch Vehicle

Validation testing continues for ESA’s all-new Ariane 6 launch vehicle, with the firing of its two upper-stage engines to simulate the way they will have to operate together during a flight. The test of the full upper stage including the new Vinci engine and a smaller Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) took place on a purpose-built test bench at German Aerospace Center DLR’s engine test center in Lampoldshausen, Germany.

Vinci, the upper stage engine of Ariane 6 fed by liquid hydrogen and oxygen, can be stopped and restarted multiple times – to place satellites into different orbits and then de-orbit the upper stage, so it is not left behind as hazardous debris in space. The APU makes it possible for Vinci to restart in space, by maintaining adequate pressure in the fuel tanks and preventing bubbles in the fuel lines. The APU uses small amounts of liquid hydrogen and oxygen from the main tanks – replacing a system that relied on large quantities of tanked helium. 

A last hot-fire test is scheduled before the final qualification of the Ariane 6 upper stage, with the aim of testing its operation for different types of missions, as well as in degraded conditions.

ESA Director of Space Transportation Toni Tolker-Nielsen thanked partners at DLR and Ariane 6 prime contractor ArianeGroup, who are running the tests at Lampoldshausen: “Ariane 6 represents a dramatic increase in our launch capability, and the upper stage with its reignitiable Vinci engine will be transformative. The results from these tests gives us great confidence in the flexibility of this launch system to satisfy all mission requirements. Together with our partners, we are making significant progress, and I look forward to the next stages of our Ariane 6 journey."

The tests at Lampoldshausen are being run in parallel with tests on the launch pad at Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana. There, Ariane 6’s lower core stage engine – Vulcain 2.1, adapted from Ariane 5’s Vulcain 2 – is being test-fired to simulate an actual launch. Launchpad tests feature a test model of the 60-m tall Ariane 6. This rocket is not intended to fly but is essentially identical to a flight model apart from its solid fuel boosters, which are inert mock-ups. These tests will ensure that the rocket and ground infrastructure work together as a complete system.

Ariane 6 is an all-new design, created to succeed Ariane 5 as Europe's heavy-lift launch system. This autonomous capability to reach Earth orbit and deep space is the foundation of Europe's vision of space-enabled navigation, Earth observation, scientific and security services. This vision is a reality thanks to the sustained dedication of thousands of talented people working in ESA's 22 Member States who call themselves 'SpaceTeamEurope'.

ESA owns and manages the Ariane 6 program and defines its performance objectives. ArianeGroup is the prime contractor, and the launch operator is Arianespace. France's space agency, CNES, operates Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana – the home of Ariane launchers since the first liftoff in 1979.

Click here to learn more about ESA's Ariane 6 program.

Publisher: SatNow

GNSS Constellations - A list of all GNSS satellites by constellations


Satellite NameOrbit Date
BeiDou-3 G4Geostationary Orbit (GEO)17 May, 2023
BeiDou-3 G2Geostationary Orbit (GEO)09 Mar, 2020
Compass-IGSO7Inclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)09 Feb, 2020
BeiDou-3 M19Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)16 Dec, 2019
BeiDou-3 M20Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)16 Dec, 2019
BeiDou-3 M21Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)23 Nov, 2019
BeiDou-3 M22Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)23 Nov, 2019
BeiDou-3 I3Inclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)04 Nov, 2019
BeiDou-3 M23Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)22 Sep, 2019
BeiDou-3 M24Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)22 Sep, 2019


Satellite NameOrbit Date
GSAT0223MEO - Near-Circular05 Dec, 2021
GSAT0224MEO - Near-Circular05 Dec, 2021
GSAT0219MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0220MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0221MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0222MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0215MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017
GSAT0216MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017
GSAT0217MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017
GSAT0218MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017


Satellite NameOrbit Date
Kosmos 2569--07 Aug, 2023
Kosmos 2564--28 Nov, 2022
Kosmos 2559--10 Oct, 2022
Kosmos 2557--07 Jul, 2022
Kosmos 2547--25 Oct, 2020
Kosmos 2545--16 Mar, 2020
Kosmos 2544--11 Dec, 2019
Kosmos 2534--27 May, 2019
Kosmos 2529--03 Nov, 2018
Kosmos 2527--16 Jun, 2018


Satellite NameOrbit Date
Navstar 82Medium Earth Orbit19 Jan, 2023
Navstar 81Medium Earth Orbit17 Jun, 2021
Navstar 78Medium Earth Orbit22 Aug, 2019
Navstar 77Medium Earth Orbit23 Dec, 2018
Navstar 76Medium Earth Orbit05 Feb, 2016
Navstar 75Medium Earth Orbit31 Oct, 2015
Navstar 74Medium Earth Orbit15 Jul, 2015
Navstar 73Medium Earth Orbit25 Mar, 2015
Navstar 72Medium Earth Orbit29 Oct, 2014
Navstar 71Medium Earth Orbit02 Aug, 2014


Satellite NameOrbit Date
NVS-01Geostationary Orbit (GEO)29 May, 2023
IRNSS-1IInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)12 Apr, 2018
IRNSS-1HSub Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (Sub-GTO)31 Aug, 2017
IRNSS-1GGeostationary Orbit (GEO)28 Apr, 2016
IRNSS-1FGeostationary Orbit (GEO)10 Mar, 2016
IRNSS-1EGeosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)20 Jan, 2016
IRNSS-1DInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)28 Mar, 2015
IRNSS-1CGeostationary Orbit (GEO)16 Oct, 2014
IRNSS-1BInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)04 Apr, 2014
IRNSS-1AInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)01 Jul, 2013