Europe’s Ariane 6 Rocket: Live Engine Test Performance Today

Get ready for a major milestone in the development of Europe’s new Ariane 6 heavy-lift rocket. An engine test will take place today and it will be streamed live.

The test vehicle will fire its single Vulcain 2.1 engine for an eight-minute duration. This is the same length of time it would burn during an actual launch, and it will occur on the pad at Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

The hot-fire test is scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m. EST (2030 GMT). You can watch it live here at, courtesy of the European Space Agency, or directly via ESA. Coverage will begin at 3:10 p.m. EST (2010 GMT).

Related: 1st launch of Europe’s new Ariane 6 rocket slips to 2024

Ariane 6 rocket test vehicle is seen on the pad at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana during a launch rehearsal on Sept. 5, 2023.(Image credit: ESA/ArianeGroup/CNES – Optique vidéo du CSG)

The Ariane 6 is Europe’s next-generation heavy-lifter. The rocket consists of a core stage, powered by a single Vulcain 2.1 engine, as well as an upper stage that sports a smaller Vinci engine. The vehicle is also outfitted with either two or four solid rocket boosters, which increase its thrust at liftoff.

The Ariane 6 will replace the workhorse Ariane 5, which retired this past July after 27 years of service and more than 100 successful launches. Though the new rocket was supposed to be up and running by 2020, enabling a smooth transition between the two European vehicles, it has suffered a series of delays. 

The vehicle’s builders are now targeting a debut liftoff sometime in 2024, and today’s test is an important milestone on that road to flight. 

“The eight-minute engine-fire trial reenacts how the Ariane 6 core stage will fire during a normal flight into space,” ESA officials wrote in a description of the test. “The trial, conducted with a test model on the launch pad at Europe’s Spaceport, will be the longest ‘full-stack’ run yet for Ariane 6’s lower liquid propulsion module equipped with a Vulcain 2.1 engine.”

If all goes according to plan, the Vulcain 2.1 will burn through nearly 165 tons (150 metric tons) of propellant — supercold liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen — during the trial.

Today’s test won’t be the first time the Ariane 6 has fired up its main engine. 

On Sept. 5, for example, teams conducted an Ariane 6 launch rehearsal on the pad at Kourou. The exercise included a test-firing of the Vulcain 2.1, though that burn lasted just four seconds.


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