ArianeGroup and its industrial partners have started construction of the first Ariane 6 launch vehicle, in line with the programme's objectives.
ArianeGroup and its industrial partners are moving into a new phase in the development of Europe's future Ariane 6 launcher. ArianeGroup is the new name of the Airbus Safran Launchers joint venture created by Airbus and Safran to reorganise the European launchers sector.
The decision follows the successful conclusion of Maturity Gate 6.2, which confirmed that the industrial process is mature enough to start construction of the first launcher, in line with the programme's objectives.
It comes three years after the decision of European Space Agency Member States to launch the Ariane 6 programme in December 2014. The Maturity Gates constitute validation milestones during the development phase. The will culminate with Maturity Gate 15 which will mark the end of development and the start of full operational capacity.
Maturity Gate 6.1 last April validated the technical, industrial and scheduling characteristics of Ariane 6, enabling launcher development to continue at the anticipated rate. Maturity Gate 6.1 cleared the way to launch production of Ariane 6 ground qualification models.
At the same time, the European Space Agency is preparing to put the launcher into operation. A review called "Exploitation Readiness Key Point" (ERKP) is analyzing in detail all the aspects associated with the marketing and series production of Ariane 6 launchers. The conclusions are expected in March 2018.
The first Ariane 6 flight is scheduled for mid-2020.