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Ariane 6 Long Duration Hot Fire Delayed Following Anomaly

The Ariane 6 Launcher Task Force gave an update on the schedule for the Ariane 6 test campaign, which has been delayed due to an anomaly.

  • Successful short duration hot fire on Sep. 5th
  • Anomaly discovered during post-test processing
  • Nominal test of upper stage on Sep. 1st
Jay Keegan

Jay Keegan

Thu Sep 21 2023Written by Jay Keegan

The Ariane 6 Launcher Task Force gave an update on the schedule for the Ariane 6 test campaign, which has been delayed due to an anomaly.


The Ariane 6 Launcher Task Force consists of top management at ESA, the overall Ariane 6 procuring entity and launch system architect, launch base prime contractor and French space agency CNES, launcher system prime contractor ArianeGroup and launch service provider Arianespace. This group reports regularly on progress being made towards inaugural flight of the new Ariane 6 launcher. 


Looking Back

Over the past few months, Ariane 6 has undergone a series of tests both at Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana and the DLR (Germany's space agency) test facility in Lampoldshausen, Germany. These tests are designed to ensure the maiden flight of Ariane 6 is successful, and are using non-flight hardware.


On September 1st, the DLR conducted a successful hot fire test of the Ariane 6 upper stage. The results have now been analysed and show an excellent outcome. The test totalled 11 minutes and 20 seconds (680 seconds) of burn time in two boosts, including two boosts of the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU). This test proved the relight capability of the Ariane 6 upper stage’s Vinci engine.


On September 5th, a short-duration hot fire test was conducted on the Ariane 6 test article in French Guiana. The test was a success, lasting four seconds before being shut down by the on-board computer as planned.


The Anomaly

Following the September 5th test, while teams were preparing the launcher (or, well, ground test article) for the long-duration hot fire test, they identified an issue with the hydraulic group of the Thrust Vector Control (TVC) system on the Vulcain 2.1 engine. The purpose of the TVC system is to control the launcher's attitude in flight, and thus is a vital system. 


Due to the nature of the issue, preparations for the long-duration test are on hold as the jont task force investigate the anomaly. This means that the long-duration test fire which was planned for October 3rd will no longer go ahead, and a new date will be set upon conclusion of the investigation.


Next Steps

Teams will continue to investigate the issue with the TVC system over the coming days and weeks, and an update will be provided when it is available.

At the end of the year, the DLR will conduct another test fire of an upper stage at their facility to test the Vinci egine in off-nominal scenarios.