Different concepts have been examined for Ariane 6 such as single- and dual-payloads, solid or cryogenic propulsion for the main stage, and the number of stages (three or more), all to cover a wide range of missions:
The targeted payload performance of Ariane 6 is 4.5 t for polar/Sun-synchronous orbit missions at 800 km altitude and 3–10 t, with two main segments (3.5-5 t and 6–6.5 t) in GTO-equivalent.
The exploitation cost of the Ariane 6 launch system is its key driver. The first flight is targeted for 2020.
Ariane 6 is a modular three-stage launcher (solid–cryogenic–cryogenic) with two configurations using: four boosters (A64) or two boosters (A62).
This is based on:
Ariane 6 in its A62 or A64 configuration is deemed the best possible long-term solution to maintain competences in Europe and deliver launch services against competitive costs.
Ariane 6 will have reignition capability and will be capable of performing a direct deorbiting and controlled reentry of the upper stage.
Flexibility is a design characteristic for A64 and A62. In essence it is the same launcher, responding to different market needs by varying the number of boosters in the configuration.
The A62, with two P120 solid boosters, will be used mainly in single-launch configurations, while the A64 – with four P120 solids – will enable double launch of medium-class satellites up to 4.5–5 t, mainly for commercial market needs.
The main characteristics of the Ariane 6 concept are: