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ESA delays first Ariane-6 launch to late in 2023

The European Space Agency has once again delayed the first Ariane-6 launch, shifting it to the fourth quarter of 2023.

Even so, officials warned that this is merely “a planned date,” and that static fire tests of both the first stage and second stage must first be completed before the launch can go forward.

Ariane-6 was initially supposed to begin launching in 2020, putting it three years behind schedule. Furthermore, it has struggled to obtain customers, as it is entirely expendable and thus expensive and not competitive with SpaceX’s Falcon 9.

Since Ariane-6 is delayed and the Ariane-5 rocket’s has only a few launches left before retirement, ESA officials also noted that it has now been forced to buy two launches from SpaceX.

The launches include the Euclid space telescope and the Hera probe, a follow-up mission to NASA’s DART spacecraft which last month succeeded in altering the path of a moonlet in the first test of a future planetary defence system. “The member states have decided that Euclid and Hera are proposed to be launched on Falcon 9,” ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher told reporters after a meeting of the 22-nation agency’s ministerial council.

The launches will take place in 2023 and 2024 respectively.

The irony is that ESA is probably going to save a lot of money launching with the Falcon 9, rather than its own Ariane-6. In fact, I would not be surprised if the total SpaceX price for both launches equals one Ariane-6 launch. Furthermore, SpaceX gets this business because its own American competitors, ULA and Blue Origin, have also failed to get their new rockets flying on time.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


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  • Ray Van Dune

    So am I correct to conclude that the non-reusable Ariane-6 will not substantially out-perform the venerable F9, since its intended initial payloads now will be launched by the F9? Why don’t they just shovel their taxpayers’ money into a hole in the ground?!

  • geoffc

    Per Elon, this is also the record of the most flights in one year by a booster type. (Soyuz-U did 47 in 1979).

    And we still have 10 or so launches to go in all likelyhood.

  • pzatchok

    Elon could really tick some people off just by designing a competitor engine to the Blue Origin BE-4.

    He could actually have it operational and ready for sale before BO does.
    But that would put BO out of business and he might not want that yet.

  • Ray Van Dune

    pzatchok, I am in no position to either dispute or support your contention, but I would be interested in knowing more about your assumptions. Are there significantly simpler design features in the BE-4 compared to Raptor? Does SpaceX have a workforce with greater skills than BO? Honestly, I’d like to know how you reached this conclusion, which I do not necessarily disagree with – I just don’t know.

  • pzatchok

    It has nothing to do with simpler or cheaper.

    They obviously do not want to pay Space X to carry their payloads. For any price. What payload can’t a Falcon Heavy lift?

    But since he is not ever going to sell his present engines to competitors he would need to make a new one.

    A new engine that does exactly what the customer wants. Obviously the customer wants to use something throw away and bolts right into and replaces what they already have

    The real reason is that the government politicians do not want to let any of his competitors go out of business. They need the jobs in their areas. Also with more companies in the mix the politicians get more chances at a better draw from the donation and gift basket.

    Add in all the politicians who either have direct investments in or are invested in the finance companies who are financing the other launch companies.
    How many invested in the drug companies a week before they were approved for the Covid vax and you had no idea?

  • John

    Would somebody please pry the ESA’s eyes open and show them SLS?

    Stop while you can, you’re wasting a ton, and what you make has no value.

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