Arianespace’s new rocket, the Ariane 6, will make her maiden flight with OneWeb satellites onboard, following a contract announcement on Tuesday. The contract, which includes options for future Ariane 6 launches, will open with the qualification launch of the Ariane 62 version in the latter part of 2020.
The Ariane 6 will be an evolution via integration streamlining and innovated design changes are major elements, which will play into reducing costs in an increasingly competitive launch provider marketplace.
Evolving from Ariane’s currently in-house fleet of Ariane 5 and Vega, the new rockets will have more commonality between them. Arianespace is still expecting to also launch Russian-built Soyuz rockets.
To reduce costs, Ariane 6’s Vulcain 2.1 engine is built with fewer parts while holding a greater efficiency, while the improved Vinci upper stage will allow for additional orbital destinations for more flexibility via a wider reignition capability.
As noted, the new era will also see Ariane 6 and Vega C brought closer together via the synergy of the boosters.
Ariane 6 and Vega C – via ESA
Cross-rocket streamlining will be involved for the upgraded Vega C rocket, which is the new version of Arianespace’s small lift capability rocket, Vega.