Thirteen months almost to the day after its kick-off, the assembly of the metal structure of the Ariane 6 mobile gantry is coming to an end. The building now reaches 100 metres in height, dominating 150 hectares of the launch pad to be built at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.

The 8th and last roof truss to compose the frame of the roof was mounted last Friday, November 30th. The gantry will be equipped with mobile platforms, giving access to the different levels of the launch vehicle, as well as a 45-tonne overhead crane. Once equipped, the building will have a mass of 7,000 tonnes — in comparison, that’s the approximate weight of the Eiffel Tower, and it will move on wheels.

Finally complete! Now just to add some walls…

This building was designed to carry out the final assembly operations of the Ariane 6 launch vehicle, including:
– the erection of the core stage using the crane,
– the installation of the P120C solid rocket boosters,
– the integration of the upper stage with the crane.
Right from the start, the future Ariane 6 launch system has been firmly focused on increased competitiveness. To make difficult technical trade-offs, feedback from the operations of the Soyuz and Vega launch pads was taken onboard, in particular when it came to the implementation of technical solutions guaranteeing lowest recurring operating costs.

It’s wonderful to see so much hard work come together. Seeing how hard everyone has worked over the last 13 month will make it all that more exciting to watch the Ariane 6 maiden flight in 2020.

Charlotte Beskow

Head of the ESA Space Transportation Office in Kourou