Europe completes 1st rollout of Ariane 6 mobile launch gantry


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The mobile launch gantry that Europe will use for its new Ariane 6 rocket successfully completed its first rollout tests last week.

This gantry is the equivalent of NASA’s VAB building. Within this gantry they will assemble Ariane 6 vertically, then roll the gantry back for launch.

Assembling a rocket vertically I think is more costly, but it also makes it possible for the rocket to launch payloads that must be installed in this manner. Thus, Ariane 6 will have this selling point over rockets like the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy, which are assembled horizontally.

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One comment

  • Dick Eagleson

    This mobile gantry is not directly comparable to the VAB at KSC because it moves on rails to and from the fixed Ariane 6 launch mount while the VAB is fixed in position. The VAB is also much larger and can support simultaneous stacking of four different vehicles. Rockets are assembled within VAB atop mobile launch platforms that are moved, as a unit with the rockets they support, to and from the pad by the huge crawler-transporters.

    The most similar pieces of U.S. space launch infrastructure are the Mobile Service Towers at Vandenberg AFB’s SLC-3E, used to support Atlas V launches, and at SLC-6, used to support Delta IV launches including the triple-core Delta IV Heavy. As with Araine 6 and its gantry, these structures are on rails and roll over the fixed launch mount while the vehicles are being vertically assembled, then roll back out of the way near launch time.

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