The second qualification model of the P120C solid rocket engine, configured for the Ariane 6 rocket, completed hot firing on October 7, 2020, in final tests to confirm its flight readiness. This was reported by the press service of the European Space Agency.
Depending on the configuration, two or four P120C engines developed in Europe will be attached to the sides of the future Ariane 6 launch vehicle as boosters for takeoff. The P120C will also be used as the first stage of the Vega-C.
After it was fully loaded with 142 tons of fuel, the engine, 13.5 m long and 3.4 m in diameter were ready to simulate takeoff and the first phase of flight. The engine ran for 130 seconds and developed a maximum thrust of about 4500 kN. The test was carried out at the Europa spaceport in French Guiana and did not reveal any anomalies.
The new European launch vehicle Ariane 6 is one of the most powerful in the world and is capable of performing a wide range of missions. Ariane 6 will be available in two versions, depending on the performance required – the A62 with two overhead boosters and the A64 with four.
Depending on the orbit, the A62 can launch a payload of approximately 4,000 – 7,000 kg, while the A64 can launch a payload of approximately 11,000 – 16,000 kg.
At over 60 meters, the Ariane 6 will weigh nearly 900 tons when launched with a full payload. This mass is equivalent to one and a half Airbus A380 passenger aircraft.
For the development of the Ariane 6, ESA is working with an industrial network of more than 600 companies in 13 European countries, including 350 small and medium-sized enterprises led by the general contractor ArianeGroup.