ESA Successfully Completes Full-Scale Rehearsal of its New Ariane 6 Rocket

ESA Successfully Completes Full-Scale Rehearsal of its New Ariane 6 Rocket

ESA’s new Ariane 6 rocket passed a major full-scale rehearsal in preparation for its first flight, when teams on the ground went through a complete launch countdown followed by a seven-minute full firing of the core stage’s engine, as it would fire on a launch into space.

For this rehearsal, the boosters were not ignited so Ariane 6 stayed firmly on the launch pad at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, as planned.

The engine-fire trial reenacts how the Ariane 6 core stage will fire during a normal flight into space. Once complete the main engine would shut down and the core stage would separate from the upper stage, which would then take over propulsion and complete its mission.

The trial, conducted with a test model on the launch pad at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, was the longest ‘full-stack' run yet for Ariane 6’s lower liquid propulsion module with a Vulcain 2.1 engine.

“The teams from ArianeGroup, CNES, and ESA have now run through every step of the rocket's flight without it leaving Earth,” says ESA’s Director General Josef Aschbacher.

“This milestone rehearsal comes after years of designing, planning, preparing, building, and hard work from some of the finest space engineers in Europe. We are back on track towards resecuring Europe’s autonomous access to space. Well done to all involved!”

The Vulcain 2.1 engine burnt through almost 150 tonnes of propellant in the Ariane 6 core stage tanks – liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen, the latter supercooled to temperatures below -250°C. Vulcain 2.1 is an evolution of the Vulcain 2 engine which made Ariane 5 Europe's most successful launch system to date. The upgrade has a simplified and cheaper design, and new technology in the engine nozzle and ignition system has been moved from the engine to the launch pad structure, to make the stage perform better and cost less.

It took just over two hours and required teams of people and delicate operations to load the rocket’s central core with fuel. The filling operations were performed during a long countdown that included other qualification tests, similar to the previous rehearsals this year. For fidelity and to guarantee launcher stability, the upper stage tanks were also fueled – even though the upper stage engine only kicks in once in orbit after separation from the main stage and so was not fired during this ground test.

The launch pad – operated by France’s space agency CNES – used its water deluge system to temper the heat from the engine.

ESA’s Director of Space Transportation, Toni Tolker-Nielsen, added his vote of confidence in the teams across Europe working to bring Ariane 6 to service: "A huge thanks to all of our dedicated colleagues who are committed and working tirelessly to see this rocket fly.”

The test followed a shorter burn in September (known as CTLO1) when Ariane 6's tanks were filled and its Vulcain 2.1 engine briefly ignited and switched off, and the filling and draining test executed in October (known as CTLO2.1) to check the launch system functions such as draining fuel in the presence of multiple simulated failures.

A last hot-fire test of the upper stage is being prepared and planned for December 2023 at the Lampoldshausen test center from Germany's DLR aerospace agency.

Click here to learn more about Launch Vehicle Platforms on SATNow.

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