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ESA Top Multimedia

Ariane 6: Thank you Space Team Europe

The first launch of Ariane 6 is a collective success for all of Europe. First flights are no easy thing, but Europe now has a heavy-lift rocket able to launch any mission into any orbit. From Earth observation satellites that monitor our changing climate, predict the weather and assist emergency responders during disasters; to communication and navigation systems that keep Europeans in touch and in the right place; to deep space telescopes and explorers expanding our understanding of the Universe and our place within it – Ariane 6 has restored Europe’s autonomous access to space.

“Thank you, not only to the ESA team but everyone around Europe who contributed to this moment in history,” said Tony Tolker-Nielsen, ESA’s Director of Space Transportation, the day after Ariane 6’s first flight. “This is a major industrial project, with contributions from 13 countries and hundreds of companies. Like a symphonic orchestra, all instruments are vital to play the perfect music”.

Ariane 6 launched on 9 July 2024 from Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana at 16:00 local time (20:00 BST, 21:00 CEST). Europe’s newest heavy-lift rocket, it is designed to provide great power and flexibility at a lower cost than its predecessors. The launcher’s configuration – with an upgraded main stage, a choice of either two or four powerful boosters and a new restartable upper stage – will provide Europe with greater efficiency and possibility as it can launch multiple missions into different orbits on a single flight.

Find more videos from Space Team Europe.

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Draco dwarf galaxy

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YPSat sees Ariane 6 fairing separation

Video returned from the ESA Young Professionals Satellite payload, YPSat, attached to the upper stage of the inaugural Ariane 6 rocket, launched on 9 July 2024. This clip shows the moment that the protective launcher fairing is jettisoned at the top of the atmosphere. The YPSat project represents the culmination of about two and a half years of dedication and hard work core team of about 30 Young Professionals from various ESA Establishments, Directorates and disciplines. Sacrificing their spare time, they shouldered the entire responsibility of designing, building and testing the payload before finally witnessing its successful launch.

YPSat looks back to Earth from atop Ariane 6

YPSat looks back to Earth from atop Ariane 6

Hera in the doghouse

Hera in the doghouse

Black hole candidate in Omega Centauri

Black hole candidate in Omega Centauri

Ariane 6 first flight highlights

Europe’s new rocket Ariane 6 powered into space on 9 July 2024 from a newly built dedicated launch pad in French Guiana. Liftoff occurred at 16:00 local time (20:00 BST, 21:00 CEST). 

Europe’s new rocket Ariane 6 powered Europe into space taking with it a varied selection of experiments, satellites, payload deployers and reentry demonstrations that represent thousands across Europe, from students to industry and experienced space actors. 

This inaugural flight, designated VA262, is a demonstration flight to show the capabilities and prowess of Ariane 6 in escaping Earth's gravity and operating in space. Nevertheless, it had several passengers on board. 

Ariane 6 was built by prime contractor and design authority ArianeGroup. In addition to the rocket, the liftoff demonstrated the functioning of the launch pad and operations on ground at Europe's Spaceport. The new custom-built dedicated launch zone was built by France's space agency CNES and allows for a faster turnover of Ariane launches. 

Ariane 6 is Europe’s newest heavy-lift rocket, designed to provide great power and flexibility at a lower cost than its predecessors. The launcher’s configuration – with an upgraded main stage, a choice of either two or four powerful boosters and a new restartable upper stage – will provide Europe with greater efficiency and possibility as it can launch multiple missions into different orbits on a single flight, while its upper stage will deorbit itself at the end of mission. 

ESA’s main roles in the Ariane 6 programme is as contracting authority – managing the budget from Member States participating in the Ariane 6 development programme; and as launch system architect – ensuring that the rocket and launch pad infrastructure work together. 

Ariane 6 is the latest in Europe's Ariane rocket series, taking over from Ariane 5 featuring a modular and versatile design that can launch missions from low-Earth orbit and farther out to deep space. 

Access all the replays from the launch event.  

Access all the launch campaign footage in broadcast quality.  

Ariane 6 inaugural flight press conference

Replay of the press conference held in Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana with ESA, ArianeGroup, CNES and Arianespace representatives providing updates on the first mission of Ariane 6. 

Access all the replays from the launch event.  

Access all the launch campaign footage in broadcast quality.  

Launch success reactions

Europe’s new rocket Ariane 6 powered into space on 9 July 2024 from a newly built dedicated launch pad in French Guiana. Liftoff occurred at 15:00 local time (20:00 BST, 21:00 CEST). 

Europe’s new rocket Ariane 6 powered Europe into space taking with it a varied selection of experiments, satellites, payload deployers and reentry demonstrations that represent thousands across Europe, from students to industry and experienced space actors. 

This inaugural flight, designated VA262, is a demonstration flight to show the capabilities and prowess of Ariane 6 in escaping Earth's gravity and operating in space. Nevertheless, it had several passengers on board. 

Ariane 6 was built by prime contractor and design authority ArianeGroup. In addition to the rocket, the liftoff demonstrated the functioning of the launch pad and operations on ground at Europe's Spaceport. The new custom-built dedicated launch zone was built by France's space agency CNES and allows for a faster turnover of Ariane launches. 

Ariane 6 is Europe’s newest heavy-lift rocket, designed to provide great power and flexibility at a lower cost than its predecessors. The launcher’s configuration – with an upgraded main stage, a choice of either two or four powerful boosters and a new restartable upper stage – will provide Europe with greater efficiency and possibility as it can launch multiple missions into different orbits on a single flight, while its upper stage will deorbit itself at the end of mission. 

ESA’s main roles in the Ariane 6 programme is as contracting authority – managing the budget from Member States participating in the Ariane 6 development programme; and as launch system architect – ensuring that the rocket and launch pad infrastructure work together. 

Ariane 6 is the latest in Europe's Ariane rocket series, taking over from Ariane 5 featuring a modular and versatile design that can launch missions from low-Earth orbit and farther out to deep space. 

Access all the replays from the launch event.  

Access all the launch campaign footage in broadcast quality.  

The first Ariane 6 rocket soars to the sky

The first Ariane 6 rocket soars to the sky

Ariane 6 first liftoff

Europe’s new rocket Ariane 6 powered Europe into space taking with it a varied selection of experiments, satellites, payload deployers and reentry demonstrations that represent thousands across Europe, from students to industry and experienced space actors. 

This inaugural flight, designated VA262, is a demonstration flight to show the capabilities and prowess of Ariane 6 in escaping Earth's gravity and operating in space. Nevertheless, it had several passengers on board. 

Ariane 6 was built by prime contractor and design authority ArianeGroup. In addition to the rocket, the liftoff demonstrated the functioning of the launch pad and operations on ground at Europe's Spaceport. The new custom-built dedicated launch zone was built by France's space agency CNES and allows for a faster turnover of Ariane launches. 

Ariane 6 is Europe’s newest heavy-lift rocket, designed to provide great power and flexibility at a lower cost than its predecessors. The launcher’s configuration – with an upgraded main stage, a choice of either two or four powerful boosters and a new restartable upper stage – will provide Europe with greater efficiency and possibility as it can launch multiple missions into different orbits on a single flight, while its upper stage will deorbit itself at the end of mission. 

ESA’s main roles in the Ariane 6 programme is as contracting authority – managing the budget from Member States participating in the Ariane 6 development programme; and as launch system architect – ensuring that the rocket and launch pad infrastructure work together. 

Ariane 6 is the latest in Europe's Ariane rocket series, taking over from Ariane 5 featuring a modular and versatile design that can launch missions from low-Earth orbit and farther out to deep space. 

Access all the replays from the launch event.  

Access all the launch campaign footage in broadcast quality.  

Ariane 6 first liftoff

Europe’s new rocket Ariane 6 powered Europe into space taking with it a varied selection of experiments, satellites, payload deployers and reentry demonstrations that represent thousands across Europe, from students to industry and experienced space actors. 

This inaugural flight, designated VA262, is a demonstration flight to show the capabilities and prowess of Ariane 6 in escaping Earth's gravity and operating in space. Nevertheless, it had several passengers on board. 

Ariane 6 was built by prime contractor and design authority ArianeGroup. In addition to the rocket, the liftoff demonstrated the functioning of the launch pad and operations on ground at Europe's Spaceport. The new custom-built dedicated launch zone was built by France's space agency CNES and allows for a faster turnover of Ariane launches. 

Ariane 6 is Europe’s newest heavy-lift rocket, designed to provide great power and flexibility at a lower cost than its predecessors. The launcher’s configuration – with an upgraded main stage, a choice of either two or four powerful boosters and a new restartable upper stage – will provide Europe with greater efficiency and possibility as it can launch multiple missions into different orbits on a single flight, while its upper stage will deorbit itself at the end of mission. 

ESA’s main roles in the Ariane 6 programme is as contracting authority – managing the budget from Member States participating in the Ariane 6 development programme; and as launch system architect – ensuring that the rocket and launch pad infrastructure work together. 

Ariane 6 is the latest in Europe's Ariane rocket series, taking over from Ariane 5 featuring a modular and versatile design that can launch missions from low-Earth orbit and farther out to deep space. 

Ariane 6 VA262

Launch of Ariane 6 VA262 on 9 July 2024 from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.

This is Europe’s newest heavy-lift rocket, designed to provide greater power and flexibility at a lower cost than its predecessors. The launcher’s configuration – with an upgraded main stage, a choice of either two or four powerful boosters and a new restartable upper stage – will provide Europe with greater efficiency and possibility as it can launch multiple missions into different orbits on a single flight, while its upper stage will be able to deorbit itself at the end of missions.

Ariane 6 takes flight

Ariane 6 launches to the sky on 9 July 2024.

Europe’s newest heavy-lift rocket, it is designed to provide great power and flexibility at a lower cost than its predecessors. The launcher’s configuration – with an upgraded main stage, a choice of either two or four powerful boosters and a new restartable upper stage – will provide Europe with greater efficiency and possibility as it can launch multiple missions into different orbits on a single flight, while its upper stage will deorbit itself at the end of mission.

First Ariane 6 ready for tanking before flight

The first Ariane 6 that will be launched into space seen here on the launch pad at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, on 9 July 2024. After the roll back of the colossal 90-m tall mobile gantry building to 120 m away from the launch pad, Europe’s new Ariane 6 rocket stands free and ready to be loaded with propellant before liftoff for its first flight, designated VA262. Pumping fuel into an Ariane 6 rocket takes about 3.5 hours, as technicians at the control centre first began by slowly cooling the pipes, valves, tanks and engines from the tropical temperatures in French Guiana of about 30°C down to the super-chilled temperatures of the cryogenic fuels. As much an art as engineering, the propellants used by Europe’s new rocket Ariane 6 are supercooled to –180°C for the oxygen and –253°C for the hydrogen fuel. At these temperatures, any humidity already in the pipes would immediately freeze and could lead to blocked valves. To avoid this, any hint of air or moisture from the atmosphere is flushed out of the system by the unreactive gas, helium, before fuelling begins. This Ariane 6 has two boosters set to propel a varied selection of experiments, satellites, payload deployers and reentry demonstrations that represent thousands of people across Europe, from students to industry and experienced space actors NASA and ArianeGroup. Ariane 6 is Europe’s newest heavy-lift rocket, designed to provide great power and flexibility at a lower cost than its predecessors. The launcher’s configuration – with an upgraded main stage, a choice of either two or four powerful boosters and a new restartable upper stage – will provide Europe with greater efficiency and possibility as it can launch multiple missions into different orbits on a single flight, while its upper stage will deorbit itself at the end of mission.

Ariane 6 from above in the final hours before liftoff

Ariane 6 from above in the final hours before liftoff

Ariane 6 sees 'first light' as mobile gantry is rolled back before fuelling begins

Ariane 6 sees 'first light' as mobile gantry is rolled back before fuelling begins

Ariane 6 revealed as nine-story mobile building rolls back from the launch pad

Ariane 6 revealed as nine-story mobile building rolls back from the launch pad

Ariane 6 the day before launch

Ariane 6 the day before launch

The Young Professional Satellite - From Theory to Reality (episode 2)

In the second episode of this docu series, we take a closer look into what it took to build ESA’s Young Professional Satellite (YPSat). YPSat’s mission objectives are to capture the key moments of Ariane 6’s inaugural flight and take in-orbit pictures of Earth and space. To achieve this, the satellite requires the multiple sub-systems to work in harmony and adhere to a pre-defined mission sequence.

This episode zooms in four of the sub-systems: the Wake-Up System (WUS), Battery, On-Board Computer (OBC) and Telecommunications.

Running at ultra low power, the WUS circuit board was designed, tested and manufactured specifically for YPSat. Created to meet Arianespace’s requirement to be operational on the launchpad for 45 days, its function is to wake up the satellite during the launch to record the fairing separation.

Once the WUS detects the launch, it will signal to the battery to turn on the rest of the satellite. The battery has the challenge to maintain enough charge to power the remainder of the components.

The On-Board Computer (OBC) then takes the lead to orchestrate the rest of the mission. The OBC acts as the brain of the satellites; it sends commands to all the other sub-systems, including sending the commands to record the videos and pictures.

Once these are captured, the Telecommunications team takes over to coordinate with the ground stations to send the data back on Earth so it can be decoded into clear images. The challenge is to ensure enough communication between the satellite and Earth so the data is properly retrieved before the YPSat disintegrates upon re-entry.

One day prior launch, YPSat is now sitting in Ariane 6’s capsule. To get there, the satellite was subject to rigorous tests and certifications to meet the stringent standards of the European Space Agency and Arianespace. Will YPSat accomplish its mission objectives? We'll find out in the next episode.

 

Credits:

Directed and produced by Chilled Winston: https://chilledwinston.com/ and Emma de Cocker

Powered by ESA - European Space Agency

Music from Epidemic Sound

Access all episodes of the series

Ariane 6: Europe’s next big rocket in a nutshell

Ariane 6 is the newest rocket in a series that has, for five decades, been launching Europe towards the stars. Building on all the knowledge, expertise and technology developed over the years, Ariane 6 will be versatile, modular, and European.

Guaranteeing Europe’s access to space for the next years, Ariane 6 in two versions, with either two or four boosters attached depending on the ‘oomph’ the mission requires. Versatile, its upper stage can reignite multiple times during a single flight, placing any spacecraft into any orbit – including constellations – saving a final boost to return and burn up in Earth’s atmosphere. Modular, it will be continuously adapted to the needs of the future space sector.

Four organisations take care of the Ariane 6 programme: ESA at the head, ArianeGroup as the main contractor, CNES who designed and built the launchpad and ArianeSpace who sell the launches.

13 countries contribute, thousands of Europeans have worked on it, and every one of us will benefit from the Earth observation, science, technologies and services it will make possible.

Earth from Space: Madeira

The Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission captured a rare, cloud-free image over the Portuguese archipelago of Madeira in the North Atlantic Ocean.

Webb admires bejewelled ring

Webb admires bejewelled ring

A maelstrom of matter and energy

A maelstrom of matter and energy

Ariane 6 first flight timeline

Ariane 6 first flight timeline

Eye test for lunar impact surveyor

Eye test for lunar impact surveyor

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