Ariane 6 is taking shape
The engine that will power the upper stage of Europe’s next-generation launcher completed its first test last week, demonstrating that Ariane 6 is forging ahead for a 2020 debut.
The DLR German Aerospace Center test facility in Lampoldshausen, Germany allows firings under near-realistic space conditions. The Vinci engine ran for 500 seconds, powered by super-cold liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen and generating 18 tonnes of vacuum thrust.
Running until September, this test campaign is establishing Vinci’s characteristics and allowing engineers to build an accurate computer model.
As a restartable engine, Vinci will offer a wide range of payload combinations and pairing of different types of missions. Direct deorbiting or injection into graveyard orbits once its work is done will help to keep the space environment free of debris.