Three flagship European Space Agency (ESA) projects have or will reach critical milestones this month, both on Earth and in space.
On the ground, the Agency’s upcoming Ariane 6 launcher’s solid rocket boosters passed their final test firing while the James Webb Space Telescope — a partnership with NASA and the Canadian Space Agency — completed environmental testing and is on track for launch next year. Meanwhile, the ESA/Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) BepiColombo mission to Mercury will make a course-altering flyby of Venus on 15 October.
The final qualification firing of the new P120C solid rocket booster that will help power the Ariane 6 rocket was successfully conducted on Wednesday, 7 October at the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana.
The P120C is a replacement for the P80 and boasts manufacturing enhancements and upgraded performance over its predecessor. As part of the streamlining and upgrading elements of the design, the P120C will serve as both the first stage of the upcoming Vega-C rocket as well as the side-mounted solid rocket boosters for Ariane 6.
When flown, they will become the largest and most-powerful single-piece solid rocket motors in history.
The test on 7 October of Qualification ...