Representatives of Ariane Group and agencies ESA and CNES on January 30 successfully completed disconnection and withdrawal tests of the cryogenic delivery systems of the new launch pad for Ariane 6. This activity marks the beginning of the dismantling of the Ariane 6 test model, which will now make way for the first launch. The phase of combined propellant tests is now complete and the new European rocket is on its way to its first launch. The test model, located on the ramp of the spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, measures 62 meters in height. In principle, it is the same as the Ariane 6 production model, which will probably take off from here relatively soon. Basically, the difference is only in the auxiliary acceleration stages, which are not certified to be part of the flight specimen.
As part of the mentioned last test, the pipelines that supply propellants to the central and upper stages were disconnected. The yellow arms captured in the opening photo of this article hold the supply pipes through which it flows liquid oxygen and hydrogen to the second stage, where they are burned in flight by the Vinci rocket engine. Instead of simply disconnecting the supply pipes, the engineers decided to proceed with this activity as part of several tests. This gave them another chance to practice all the necessary steps before the start. Once Ariane’s actual liftoff comes around, seconds before liftoff, the intake pipe arms will be retracted away from the second stage body. As for the central stage, it is fueled in the lower part of the rocket and during the test they were also disconnected.
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