Relive the successful takeoff of the Ariane-6 rocket in 10 spectacular images

Relive the successful takeoff of the Ariane-6 rocket in 10 spectacular images
Relive the successful takeoff of the Ariane-6 rocket in 10 spectacular images

5,4,3,2,1 Vulcan ignition! On Tuesday, July 9, at 9 p.m., the European Ariane-6 rocket took off from Kourou, in French Guiana, putting into orbit the ten micro-satellites it was carrying. An inaugural flight that marks the return of autonomous access to space for Europe, despite the failure of the atmospheric reentry of the upper stage at the end of the mission.

This “anomaly” does not erase the relief of European space officials at the success of the primary objective: to be able to put satellites into orbit. “It is a great success despite the small disappointment” at the end of the mission, insisted Walther Pelzer, the head of DLR, the German space agency, second contributor after France to the Ariane 6 program.

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“This is a historic day for ESA and for Europe,” said the Director General of the European Space Agency (ESA), Joseph Aschbacher, who expressed his “relief.” For his counterpart at the French National Center for Space Studies (CNES), Philippe Baptiste, “Europe is back.”

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In the big leagues

In the Jupiter Room, the mission control tower located 17 kilometers from the launch pad in Kourou, French Guiana, the anxiety of the possible failure of a flight expected for four years quickly gave way to relief and applause. “Nominal propulsion, trajectory in line with expectations,” announced the director of operations, Raymond Boyce, before the upper stage ignited. “Calm piloting,” he then stated several times.

Without even waiting for the successful launch of the satellites, the head of the American NASA Bill Nelson hailed on X “a giant step for @ESA with the first launch of its powerful new generation rocket”.

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“Europe can say that it continues to play in the court of the great independent powers,” said the French Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, from Toulouse, while Emmanuel Macron addressed a “huge bravo to the teams who make possible what seems impossible.”

Despite the numerous ground tests and simulations carried out over the months, there remained an element of risk: historically, almost half of the first rocket launches in the world have been failures, such as in 1996 for the first Ariane 5, which nevertheless experienced only two failures in 117 launches.

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