First launch of European Ariane 6 has been delayed until 2022

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The first launch of Europe’s Ariane 6 rocket will not take place until 2022 at the earliest. The European Space Agency also wants an extra 230 million euros from the participating member states.

The delay is partly due to various lockdowns in European countries due to the corona crisis, but also to technical problems. For example, there is a problem with the cryogenic arm that attaches the vehicle to the launch pad. The European Space Agency now thinks the rocket will fly for the first time sometime in 2022, although the space agency does not provide a forecast for a specific time period.

ESA said at a general meeting this week that it also needs more money to develop the missile. This involves a total of 230 million euros, about six percent more than initially budgeted. The development of the rocket, including that new amount, costs a total of about 3.8 billion euros. ESA hopes that the member states will agree to the new budget in the coming months.

Initially, the missile’s maiden flight was supposed to bring up some small satellites for OneWeb. It is not known whether this can continue. OneWeb went bankrupt earlier this year, although it has now been able to make a restart. The launch of a Galileo satellite is planned for Ariane 6’s second mission.

The first launch of the missile will be in the A62 configuration. It has two solid fuel boosters and is primarily intended to launch smaller satellites into space. Work is also being done on a heavier configuration, the A64 with four boosters. The latter is the main replacement for the current Ariane 5 rocket for which ESA has been looking for an alternative for years. The rocket must compete better with cheaper launch providers such as SpaceX.

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