First Ariane 6 launch likely delayed to 2021


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Because of delays caused by the Wuhan flu panic, the European Space Agency (ESA) and ArianeGroup now expect that the first launch of their new rocket, the Ariane 6, will likely be delayed from late in 2020 to 2021.

The loss of the flight’s payload is also a problem.

Finally, megaconstellation startup OneWeb had booked 30 small broadband satellites on the Ariane 6 maiden flight, but filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March, putting the mission in question. Luinaud said if Arianespace can’t find another customer for the Ariane 6 maiden flight this year, it may wait until 2021 to find a payload and avoid flying the rocket empty.

Overall Ariane 6 has been having trouble getting customers. Though it is less expensive that the Ariane 5, it it is entirely expendable and thus remains much more expensive than SpaceX’s Falcon 9. And with the Russians slashing the price of their Russia Proton rocket satellite companies have ample other options. It is for this reason I do not expect Ariane 6 to stick around long. ESA will be quickly forced to replace it with something less expensive and probably reusable.

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One comment

  • LocalFluff

    At least it saves the JWST launch, since it has been designed and tested for an Ariane 5 launch only.

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