Watch live on ESA Web TV on 23 November as Europe’s new Ariane 6 rocket goes through a full-scale rehearsal in preparation for its first flight, when teams from ArianeGroup, France’s space agency CNES, and ESA on the ground will complete a launch countdown rehearsal. The test includes the ignition of the core stage Vulcain 2.1 engine, followed by 470 seconds of stabilised operation covering the entire core stage flight phase, as it would function on a launch into space.
Coverage will start 20 minutes before engine ignition at 21:10 CET (20:10 GMT, 17:10 local time in Kourou, French Guiana) and continue five minutes after core stage operation, once the engine burns through all its propellant.
For this rehearsal, the boosters will not be ignited, so Ariane 6 will stay firmly on the launch pad at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.
The eight-minute engine-fire trial reenacts how the Ariane 6 core stage will fire during a normal flight into space. The trial, conducted with a test model on the launch pad at Europe’s Spaceport will be the longest ‘full-stack’ run yet for Ariane 6’s lower liquid propulsion module equipped with a Vulcain 2.1 engine.
The Vulcain 2.1 engine will burn through almost 150 tonnes of propellant supplied from the Ariane 6 core stage tanks – liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen – supercooled to temperatures below -250°C.
The Vulcain 2.1 engine is an evolution of the Vulcain 2 engine that made Ariane 5 Europe’s most successful launch system ever. The upgrade has a simplified and cheaper design and features new technology in the engine nozzle, while the ignition system has been moved from the engine to the launch pad to make the core stage perform better and cost less.
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