The DLA is now fully mobilized behind the Ariane 6 programme, where it plays a key role in providing technical support to ESA as project manager for the development of the Ariane 6 launch system as well as for construction of the new launch pad in French Guiana (ELA4), which has 250 workers and 46 companies working full throttle to complete its 55,000 m3 of reinforced concrete. Located 3.5 km from Ariane 5’s current ELA3 and parallel to the Route de l’Espace (Space Road) leading to it, this is the ninth launch pad built by the DLA at the Guiana Space Centre (CSG). Covering 170 hectares, it consists mainly of the launch pad itself, the mobile service tower gantry and the launch vehicle assembly building. This latest launch pad has been specially designed to reduce the operating costs of Ariane 6. As early as 2019, the DLA will be conducting combined tests at the CSG to check the performance of the new Ariane 6 launch vehicle on its launch pad.
Given today’s heightened global competition and the development of many new launchers, the DLA is also focusing on the launch vehicles of the future. It is helping to develop the new Prometheus engine, which it designed with ArianeGroup in 2015 and whose prototype received the financial backing of six European countries at ESA’s last Ministerial Council meeting in Lucerne, December 2016. The DLA is also jointly responsible, with the DLR, for the development of the Callisto reusable first stage flight demonstrator, due to undergo tests at the CSG in 2020.
Announcing the new structure of one of CNES’s four centres of excellence, CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall said: “CNES Launch Vehicles Directorate is one of the European space sector’s most precious assets. It is now fully mobilized to ensure the success of THE launcher required by Europe—Ariane 6—and to develop the launch vehicles of the future. This is the aim of this new structure that we have just put in place, which will enable all its members to give of their best in order to maintain Europe’s independent access to space.”
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