Arianespace is making great strides in the push to launch the Ariane 6. In a recent blog post, they shared a video of a test firing of the second stage.
On a test stand in Lampoldshausen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, teams from Arianespace, ESA (the European Space Agency), and DLR (the German Aerospace Center) ran the hydrogen/oxygen upper stage with the Vinci engine for about 45 seconds based on the video clip in their post.
Work on the second stage is being done in parallel with the first stage. At the Guiana space center in Kouru, French Guiana in South America, stacking tests have been done at the pad. Ariane 6 is the next in the Ariane series of launch vehicles dating back to the first Ariane 1 launch in December of 1979. This development is also continuing alongside the recently announces SUSIE, a reusable crew and cargo spacecraft meant to fly on Ariane 6 and whatever comes after it. Currently, Arianespace is aiming for a first launch sometime in 2023.
This advanced launcher will take over for the Ariane 5. The current workhorse launcher for ESA, Ariane 5 has had an impressive history. It has been flying since 1996 with a 95.6% success rate which includes only 1 complete failure and its most recent partial failure in 2016. Ariane 5’s success has been built on the launch of numerous commercial payloads, resupply missions to the ISS and high profile science missions including BepiColumbo, to study the planet Mercury, and the Christmas morning 2021 launch of the James Webb Space Telescope.
Check out the press release for a video clip of the engine firing.