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Europe’s new rocket Ariane 6 powered into space on 9 July 2024 from a newly built dedicated launch pad in French Guiana. Liftoff occurred at 16:00 local time (20:00 BST, 21:00 CEST). 

Europe’s new rocket Ariane 6 powered Europe into space taking with it a varied selection of experiments, satellites, payload deployers and reentry demonstrations that represent thousands across Europe, from students to industry and experienced space actors. 

This inaugural flight, designated VA262, is a demonstration flight to show the capabilities and prowess of Ariane 6 in escaping Earth’s gravity and operating in space. Nevertheless, it had several passengers on board. 

Ariane 6 was built by prime contractor and design authority ArianeGroup. In addition to the rocket, the liftoff demonstrated the functioning of the launch pad and operations on ground at Europe’s Spaceport. The new custom-built dedicated launch zone was built by France’s space agency CNES and allows for a faster turnover of Ariane launches. 

Ariane 6 is Europe’s newest heavy-lift rocket, designed to provide great power and flexibility at a lower cost than its predecessors. The launcher’s configuration – with an upgraded main stage, a choice of either two or four powerful boosters and a new restartable upper stage – will provide Europe with greater efficiency and possibility as it can launch multiple missions into different orbits on a single flight, while its upper stage will deorbit itself at the end of mission. 

ESA’s main roles in the Ariane 6 programme is as contracting authority – managing the budget from Member States participating in the Ariane 6 development programme; and as launch system architect – ensuring that the rocket and launch pad infrastructure work together. 

Ariane 6 is the latest in Europe’s Ariane rocket series, taking over from Ariane 5 featuring a modular and versatile design that can launch missions from low-Earth orbit and farther out to deep space. 

Access all the replays from the launch event.  

Access all the launch campaign footage in broadcast quality.  

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