Europe's rockets

Europe's rockets


02/09/2019 5:00 pm




Artist’s impression (left to right): Ariane 5, Vega, Vega-C, Ariane 62, Ariane 64, Space Rider.

Europe’s Ariane 5 and Vega launch vehicles currently operate from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, in the northeast of South America providing Europe with continued independent and autonomous access to space.

New space transportation vehicles are being developed. 

Vega-C is capable of a wide range of missions and through a range of payload carriers it can place one or multiple payloads up to 2.3 tonnes into orbit on a single flight. It replaces Vega. 

Ariane 6 is Europe’s next-generation launch vehicle capable of delivering payloads of around 21 tonnes into low-Earth orbit. Ariane 6 has two versions – A62 and A64 – combining strength and versatility to place one or multiple satellites into any orbit. It is Europe's largest rocket yet at over 60 metres tall.

Space Rider is a reusable lifting body. Launched unmanned on Vega-C, it can stay in low-Earth orbit for more than two months, providing a platform for a range of experiments and demonstrations in microgravity. After each mission it will return to Earth to land on ground to return its cargo before minimal refurbishment for its next mission.  

Rockets are the backbone of all space-based endeavours. ESA in partnership with industry is developing next-generation space transportation vehicles, Ariane 6, Vega-C, and Space Rider. At Space19+, ESA will propose further enhancements to these programmes and introduce new ideas to help Europe work together to build a robust space transportation economy. This week, take a look at what ESA is doing to ensure continued autonomous access to space for Europe and join the conversation online by following the hashtag #RocketWeek

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