Arianespace narrows Vega C and Ariane 6 maiden flight windows

SEOUL, South Korea — Arianespace plans to conduct the maiden flight of Vega C and Ariane 6 rockets in “the first week of July” and “towards the end of the year,” respectively, a senior executive said June 1.

Vivian Quenet, Arianespace’s managing director and head of sales for the Asia-Pacific region, announced the timetable during a fireside chat at Asia Satellite Business Week in Singapore. 

He said Vega C’s debut would be the company’s second launch of the year, after the Ariane 5 that is set to lift off June 22 from French Guiana with a pair of geostationary satellites from Malaysia and India.

“After that one [Ariane 5 launch] we will have the maiden flight of the Vega C” in first week of July, Quenet said, and then “towards the end of the year, we have the maiden flight of Ariane 6, which is our heavy launcher which will replace Ariane 5.” 

He did not say which payload Vega C will be carrying on its first flight.

Vega C had previously been slated to perform its maiden flight toward the end of June, while the Ariane 6 debut was scheduled for the second half of the year.

The executive said Arianespace had received “a lot of requests” from many Asian countries seeking to develop sovereign launch vehicles and Earth observation satellites. 

The France-based company is “discussing with those countries to see how we can help them,” he added, without giving further details.

He called Russia’s war in Ukraine a “black swan” that has taken a toll on the company’s launch capacity and planning.

“We had an impact because we had 11 launches planned on [Russian rocket] Soyuz,” he said. 

“And because of the collaboration was suspended due to the sanction, we had to find solutions for those eleven launchers.

“Sometimes we’ve been helping our customers to reach out to our competitors to find a solution.”

However, he expects the situation will improve as Vega C and Ariane 6 become operational in coming months.

Caption: Vivian Quenet, Arianespace’s managing director and head of sales for the Asia-Pacific region, speaks during a fireside chat at Asia Satellite Business Week in Singapore June 1. Credit: Euroconsult

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