The inaugural launch is now planned for 2024, Josef Aschbacher, head of the Paris-based ESA, wrote on Twitter.
1/Here below please find the updated schedule for Ariane 6 development. With this, @ESA, @ArianeGroup, @Arianespace and @CNES confirm that the inaugural launch is now targeted for 2024. https://t.co/TfWkVbRxA1
— Josef Aschbacher (@AschbacherJosef) August 8, 2023
A more precise launch date can only be determined after further tests in September. Originally, the Ariane 6 was expected to be launched in 2020, but it has been postponed several times.
Most recently, ESA estimated that the Ariane 6 would make its initial lift off in the last quarter of 2023.
The Ariane 6 rocket is the successor model to Ariane 5, which has been in service since 1996. It is designed to carry satellites into space for commercial and public clients and is said to be significantly cheaper than its predecessor.
It is intended to make Europe’s spaceflight more competitive and the new rocket is to also take over launches of the Soyuz launcher, which is operated by the Russian space agency.
At the beginning of July, an Ariane 5 rocket was launched into space for the last time. Since then, ESA no longer has its own means of launching large satellites into space.
The delayed inaugural launch of Ariane 6 means that this situation will last longer.
The smaller Vega C rocket is also currently not in operation after a launch failure on its first commercial flight last December.