Ariane 6: New Launcher Capacities for Europe’s Space Industries

Photo: ©ESA - S. Corvaja

Europe once again has independent access to space. Europe will also benefit from this in the area of Earth observation.

The new Ariane 6 launcher lifted off to space from the European Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana, on Tuesday, July 9, 2024 at 16:00 local time for its maiden flight. 

The launch is a major success for the European space industry, as it makes Europe independent of international competitors when it comes to launching satellites into orbit. 

The rocket is significantly cheaper than its predecessor Ariane 5. It can deliver satellites into different orbits and thus also launch different constellations into space. The rocket can transport satellites weighing up to 11.5 tonnes. Its height is around 60 metres and its weight with the maximum payload is around 900 tonnes. 

What do Europe’s launcher capacities mean for Earth observation systems?

With the Sentinel-2C satellite, the third Copernicus Sentinel 2 satellite, an Earth Observation satellite is already on its way to the Kourou space centre, which is to travel to its orbit with Ariane 6, according to Domino-E lead partner Airbus Defence and Space.

Access to the Sentinel-2C data is significantly optimised by the Domino architecture, which optimises the management of EO ground segments. 

It is only through the interaction of space infrastructure such as the launcher capacities of the new Ariane 6, state-of-the-art sensor hardware such as the Sentinel-2C satellite and optimised flight control and mission management by the ground segments that European Earth observation can maintain its strong position in the face of increasing international competition. 

Through the close co-operation of system integrators (ADS), innovation-driven small and medium-sized enterprises in the space industry, and research institutions in the development of Dominos that add valuable EO capabilities to ground segments, the Domino architecture provides an excellent framework for the further development of European EO capabilities. Just like the Ariane 6 rocket does in the field of space transportation. T many safe flights!

The Domino-X project has created many of the foundations on which Domino-E is built. The Domino architecture is explained in the video. (