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Ariane 6 launch complex inaugurated at Europe’s Spaceport

on 11 October 2021

The new launch complex built for Europe’s upcoming Ariane 6 rocket is inaugurated at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana. With this, ESA celebrates another important milestone in the Ariane 6 roadmap as it forges ahead with combined tests between launch vehicle and launch base and preparations towards the first launch campaign.

Clearly visible from space, the facilities feature remarkable complex structures above and below ground specially designed to support Ariane 6 launches into the next decade.

The Ariane 6 programme is funded and developed by ESA. This new launch vehicle will replace Europe’s heavy-lift Ariane 5. Available in two versions, with either two or four boosters, Ariane 6 will offer more performance and flexibility than its predecessor. This opens new opportunities and guarantees continued access to space for ESA Member States.

The Ariane 6 launch complex is a marvel of engineering, designed to optimise the launch system performance and operations workflow. Its design benefits from lessons learned in the construction and operation of the existing Ariane, Vega and Soyuz launch complexes at the spaceport.

Ariane 6’s final integration will take place inside a mobile gantry, just like Soyuz and Vega.

The Ariane 6 core and upper stages will be integrated horizontally inside the launch vehicle assembly building and prepared for rollout to the launch zone. The building is 20 m tall, 112 m long and 41 m wide, some 1 km from the launch zone.

Horizontal integration lowers the cost of facilities and launcher integration while offering a higher level of flexibility and growth potential and allowing easier access to the whole rocket. Overall, the improved Ariane 6 approach to integration and operations will reduce the duration of a launch campaign from months to weeks.

More details here.

Image credit: ESA / CNES / Arianespace