Airbus Wins New ESA Contract for Ariane 6 Work

Depiction of Ariane 5 ME. (Credit: ESA)
Depiction of Ariane 5 ME. (Credit: ESA)

TOULOUSE, France (Airbus PR) — Airbus Defence and Space, number two worldwide in space technologies, has been awarded a 60–million-euro contract by the European Space Agency (ESA) to continue definition and feasibility studies in 2014 for the new Ariane 6 European launcher.

These studies will pinpoint the detailed architecture developed so far and consolidate the launcher’s main characteristics. The results of these studies will be revealed in November 2014 at ESA’s System Requirements Review (SRR).

Validation of the programme’s smooth progress should allow ESA to set the specifications of the Ariane 6 launch system, which will then enable member states to decide on continuation of the new launcher’s development at the next ESA Ministerial Council meeting, scheduled for December 2014.

Airbus Defence and Space will continue fine tuning the definition of the Ariane 6 launcher, while in parallel developing the Ariane 5 ME launcher and, in particular, developing many features common to both Ariane 5 ME and Ariane 6. The ESA contracts awarded to Astrium (now integrated into Airbus Defence and Space) in 2013 include developing the Ariane 5 ME with the aim of improving Ariane 5 performance by over 20% by 2018.

At the November 2012 Ministerial Council meeting, ESA decided to commence definition studies for the new Ariane 6 launcher and to continue with the development of Ariane 5 ME, while also seeking to maximise synergies between the two future launchers.