Ariane 6 Engine Fire Trial a Success; Final Test Imminent

24th Nov 2023
Ariane 6 Engine Fire Trial a Success; Final Test Imminent

On 23rd November, the European Space Agency conducted an Ariane 6 engine fire trial. The ground teams undertook a full-fledged launch countdown, and the engine of the core stage fired for seven minutes to simulate a launch into orbit.  The trial is a significant milestone before the Ariane 6’s maiden launch.

Ariane 6 Undergoes Successful Engine Fire Trial With Prototype Liquid Propulsion Module

The rehearsal did not involve igniting the boosters, so the Ariane 6 rocket remained stationary on the launch pad at the Guiana Space Centre. 

The Ariane 6 core stage’s firing process was simulated during the engine fire trial to emulate a typical spaceflight. The primary engine would stop running after completion, with the core stage separating from the upper stage. The upper stage would then take over propulsion and complete its mission. 

During the test, a prototype of the Ariane 6 rocket’s lower liquid propulsion module carrying a Vulcain 2.1 engine was put through its paces on the launch pad at the Guiana Space Centre. This was the lengthiest “full-stack” trial yet.

ESA Ariane 6 Engine Fire Trial
Source: ESA

The Ariane 6’s core stage tanks were filled with nearly 150 tonnes of propellant, including supercooled liquid hydrogen and oxygen, which were burned through by the Vulcain 2.1 engine. This engine is an improved version of Vulcain 2, with a simpler and more affordable design. 

Rocket Fuel Loading Procedure and Launch Preparation Details

Loading the rocket’s central core with propellant involved multiple teams of workers, and it took slightly over two hours to complete. The filling procedure was part of a countdown that entailed evaluations similar to those earlier in the year. The upper stage tanks were also fueled to ensure the stability of the launcher and preserve the fidelity of the process, although the upper stage engine only activates upon entering orbit. 

The heat emitted by the engine was regulated by using a water deluge mechanism on the launch pad, which was managed by CNES (Centre National D’Etudes Spatiales).

Ariane 6 Prepares for Final Hot-Fire Test in December 2023

Before this, in September, Ariane 6 underwent a shorter engine ignition test (CTLO1), followed by a filling and draining trial (CTLO2.1) in October to verify the launch system’s functions. Preparations are underway for a final hot-fire evaluation of the upper stage at the German Aerospace Center’s Lampoldshausen test center in December 2023.

Related Articles

Explore Orbital Today