PARIS, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- Airbus Safran Launchers has finalized the architecture for its Ariane 6 launch vehicle, announcing a maiden launch to take place in 2020.
The Ariane 6 is a joint venture between Airbus and Safran. Unlike earlier efforts, Le Figaro reports the next European heavy launcher will be partially assembled horizontally, similarly to the Russian Soyuz rocket.
Ariane 6 will be built in A62 and A64 configurations to meet the design expectations of the satellite launch market, which accounts for satellites of average and heavy mass in geostationary transfer orbit.
The A62 configuration, equipped with two boosters, will be responsible for launching scientific satellites for the European Space Agency, at an estimated cost of under $76 million. The A64 configuration, equipped with four boosters, is designed to carry twice the payload, and will reportedly cost under $126 million.
Airbus Safran Launchers completed six Ariane 5 launches in seven months in 2015, and is planning at least seven launches for 2016. The first Ariane 5 launch of 2016 marked the launcher's 70th consecutive successful flight.