The European space agency ESA does not expect to launch the Ariane 6 rocket in 2022. ESA now thinks it will not be able to do this until sometime next year. The Ariane 6 rocket will succeed the Ariane 5 and the Russian Soyuz rockets.
ESA’s Director General Josef Aschbacher says to the BBC that the Ariane 6 rocket will be launched for the first time next year. In the conversation, he does not indicate why the launch will only take place then. He also does not give details about when in 2023 he expects the rocket to be launched.
It is not the first time that the Ariane 6 has been postponed. In 2020, ESA said the rocket would be launched for the first time in 2022. On ESA’s site the second quarter of 2022 is still being discussed. ESA said it would have to postpone the launch in 2020 due to the various lockdowns. There were also technical problems, including with the cryogenic arm that connects the rocket to the launch pad.
The Ariane 6 rocket has become extra important for ESA since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Since that invasion, the Soyuz missile can no longer be used for European purposes, even though it had been counted on. The feasibility of certain missions, such as the European rover mission to Mars, depends on how quickly ESA can get Ariane 6 launched.
ESA is working on two specifications for the Ariane 6 rocket. The Ariane 62 will have two boosters and can bring 4.5 to 5 tons into geostationary transfer orbit. This orbit is mainly used for satellites. The Ariane 64 will have four boosters and can bring 11.5 tons into gto orbit. ESA wants to use the 62 rocket as a replacement for the Soyuz rocket; the 64 version is the successor to the Ariane 5.