The Ariane 6 programme was approved at the ESA Ministerial Conference of 2 December 2014 to develop a new launcher that will enable Europe to maintain its leadership position in the increasingly competitive satellite launch services market. Ariane 6 is designed to achieve lower operating costs than Ariane 5 and to accomplish a broader range of missions. The programme is being led by ESA, which has tasked CNES with developing the ground segment in French Guiana. Operations for Ariane 6 are designed to be simpler and shorter, and will require fewer buildings.
For the first time in the history of the Ariane series, the launcher will be integrated horizontally in the BAL launcher assembly building. It will then be taken to the launch complex by a specific system and erected by the mobile gantry. Lastly, the fairing encapsulating the satellite payload will be mated with the launcher, which will be transferred from the encapsulation bay by a specially designed transporter system.
CNES has signed the Edelweiss development contract covering the mechanical ground systems for transporting Ariane 6 to the launch complex with Swiss firm APCO Technologies, based in Aigle. APCO’s expertise in developing complex mechanical systems will ensure the reliability required to meet the programme’s operating cost reduction objectives.
It has also been decided to replace the current coupling-plate systems used to fuel Ariane 5 with liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen with simpler and more-robust devices enabling retraction after lift-off of the launcher.
CNES has signed a contract with the consortium composed of Latecoere Services (lead contractor), Air Liquide and Cegelec Projets Espace et Caraïbes to develop the cryogenic interfaces between the launcher and ground systems. These complex interfaces on which Ariane 6’s availability will depend will consist of cryogenic fuelling arms for the upper stage and coffers for the lower stage.
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