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Ariane 6 Rocket's Historic Launch: Europe's Return to Heavy-Lift Capabilities

Ariane 6 Rocket's Historic Launch: Europe's Return to Heavy-Lift Capabilities

On July 9, 2024, Europe's Ariane 6 rocket will launch from French Guiana, carrying nearly 12 satellites and experimental devices. This marks Europe's return to heavy-lift rockets. The launch is scheduled for 2 PM Eastern Time.

Ariane 6 has been highly anticipated, originally intended as a successor to the Ariane 5, which retired a year ago. The first flight of Ariane 6 will last 2 hours, 51 minutes, and 40 seconds. It will showcase the rocket's capability to reignite its second stage up to four times, enabling precise payload placement in various orbits and reducing space debris.

The rocket will carry 11 international payloads, including satellites and experimental units. Notably, two space capsules will return intact to Earth, providing valuable data for future spacecraft design.

Ariane 6 will launch in two configurations: A62 with two solid rocket boosters and A64 with four. These boosters, combined with a Vulcain 2.1 engine, will provide 350 tons of thrust. The second stage will utilize the Vinci engine to propel the rocket and its 10,350 kg payload into low Earth orbit.

Success for Ariane 6 could revitalize Europe's heavy-lift capabilities, offering flights at a lower cost than Ariane 5. However, competition from SpaceX and others presents a significant challenge.

The launch will be live-streamed by ESA, with options for French, German, and annotation-free broadcasts.

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