Ariane 6 Inaugural Flight Takes Off Today

Today marks a momentous occasion for the European Space Agency (ESA) as the Ariane 6, the latest and most advanced member of the Ariane rocket family, is set to embark on its inaugural flight. This launch from the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana, represents a new era in European space transportation, promising enhanced capabilities and cost-effectiveness.

The launch window for this historic mission opens today, July 9, 2024, with liftoff now scheduled no earlier than 16:00 local time (21:00 CEST). This updated timing follows a routine check that identified and resolved a small issue in a data acquisition system. The live stream of the launch will begin at 15:30 local time (20:30 CEST), allowing viewers worldwide to witness this significant event.

Mission Overview

The primary objective of today’s mission is to demonstrate the Ariane 6’s ability to perform a range of tasks required for future operational flights. The rocket will carry multiple payloads into different orbits, including a mix of experimental satellites and technology demonstrators. This includes both geostationary transfer orbit (GTO) and low Earth orbit (LEO) deployments, showcasing the Ariane 6’s versatility.

The rocket will launch in its Ariane 64 configuration, featuring four solid rocket boosters that provide additional thrust necessary for heavier payloads and more challenging missions. Today’s successful mission is vital for ESA’s goal of maintaining a competitive edge in the global space launch market.

Ariane 6 inaugural flight overview. Credit: @ESA

Successful Hot Fire Test

A key milestone was achieved on July 4, 2024, when the Ariane 6 successfully completed its hot fire test at the Guiana Space Centre. This critical test involved igniting the Vulcain 2.1 main engine and the four solid rocket boosters, simulating actual launch conditions and validating the propulsion system.

The hot fire test lasted approximately 10 minutes, providing engineers with crucial data on the rocket’s performance and stability. The successful outcome of this test has ensured that the Ariane 6 is ready for today’s flight, boosting confidence in its capabilities and future missions.

Future Prospects

The Ariane 6 is designed to be a flexible and cost-effective launch vehicle, catering to a wide range of customers, including commercial satellite operators, governmental agencies, and international partners. Its modular design allows for different configurations, such as the Ariane 62 with two solid rocket boosters for lighter payloads, ensuring adaptability to various mission requirements.

ESA’s Director of Space Transportation, Daniel Neuenschwander, emphasized the significance of today’s launch:

“The Ariane 6’s inaugural flight is a pivotal moment for European space transportation. The success of this mission will demonstrate our ability to provide reliable, affordable, and versatile access to space, solidifying Europe’s position in the global space industry.”

As the countdown to launch continues, the world watches in anticipation. The successful deployment of Ariane 6 today will mark a significant achievement, opening new possibilities for space exploration and utilization, and reinforcing Europe’s leadership in space technology and innovation.

Live Coverage

The launch will be streamed live on ESA’s official website and social media channels. You can watch the live broadcast of the launch here:

Tune in to witness the Ariane 6 take to the skies and begin its journey into space.

Contact: For further information, please contact the ESA Media Relations Office at or visit the ESA website at