Full thrust on Europe's new Ariane 6 rocket

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Manufacturers say they are making rapid progress in the development of Europe's new rocket - the Ariane 6.
The vehicle is due to enter service in 2020, gradually replacing the existing workhorse, the Ariane 5.
The prime contractor, the recently rebranded ArianeGroup, gave an update on the status of the programme here at this week's Paris Air Show.
"We're on track with our roadmap and Ariane 6 is progressing very well," CEO Alain Charmeau told BBC News.

"Perhaps the most spectacular highlight at the moment is the testing of our Vinci engine. It's a brand new engine that will be on our new, versatile upper-stage. And on Monday we had another successful test. We're now well above 100 hundred tests."

The Vinci can be stopped and restarted multiple times. It will permit the Ariane 6 to conduct a broader range of missions than its predecessor.

It can also bring the upper-stage out of orbit after it has dropped off the satellite payload. This is a nod to the tightening "clean space" requirements that demand rocket operators leave as little debris in space as possible.

The recent Vinci firings are being conducted at a facility in Vernon, France. But even as these continue, production of the engine has started at a factory in Ottobrunn, Germany. This will be ramped up over the course of the next three years.

Ariane 6 is envisaged as something of a "jack of all trades" launcher. It will assume both the heavy-lifting duties of the Ariane 5 and the medium-lifting missions of the Russian Soyuz rocket that also operates out of Europe's spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.
Read more on BBC.