Switzerland contributes technology to Ariane 6

10 July 2024 09:28

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Kourou - Ariane 6 blasted off into space for the first time from the Korou spaceport on July 9. Swiss companies like APCO Technologies, Beyond Gravity and Franke have contributed components to the new heavy-lift rocket developed by the European Space Agency (ESA).

Ariane 6, the new heavy-lift rocket developed by the European Space Agency (ESA), launched into space from the Korou spaceport in French Guyana at 21:00 CET on July 9 2024 – an hour later than scheduled. According to an ESA press release, the inaugural flight was primarily for demonstration purposes.

“A completely new rocket is not launched often, and success is far from guaranteed,” says ESA’s Director General Josef Aschbacher. The start of the new generation of Ariane rockets is “effectively reinstating European access to space”.

Ariane 6 is more powerful than previous generations of rockets. It can reignite multiple times and is therefore suitable for transporting several payloads, which could include satellite constellations. However, the upper stage did not ignite on the first launch.

According to ESA documentation, companies from 13 European countries were involved in the Ariane 6 project. Representing Switzerland, Zurich-based  Beyond GravityAPCO from Aigle in the canton of Vaud and Franke from Aarburg in the canton of Aargau contributed components.

Beyond Gravity was responsible for the rocket’s payload fairings, which protect the satellites housed in the cargo as the rocket passes through the Earth’s atmosphere during launch. “We are proud to have been a close partner to ArianeGroup for decades and to continue our joint success story also for the next generation of launch vehicles. Over the years, Beyond Gravity has manufactured more than 250 payload fairings for the Ariane launcher rockets and was instrumental in the development of the new payload fairing for Ariane 6,” says André Wall, CEO of Beyond Gravity, in a press release issued by the company.

APCO produced the booster attachments and the booster nose cap. These attachments had to withstand a thrust of 270 tons during takeoff. APCO was also involved in providing the Mechanical Ground Support Equipment (MGSE) for the launch of Ariane 6.

Franke provided the nozzle extension that channels energy to the engine.

According to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI), the costs of the Ariane 6 project amount to around €4 billion, with Switzerland contributing 2.4% of this total. The funds invested enable services in areas such as communication, navigation and earth observation, which also benefit the Swiss economy and population. ce/ww


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