ESA and European industry are currently developing a new-generation launcher: Ariane 6. Ariane 6 will fly with a payload fairing made by Beyond Gravity. Copyright: ESA - D. Ducros.


Shaping the next generation of European launch vehicles: Contract won for Ariane 6

Beyond Gravity wins an order to produce the payload fairings for ArianeGroup’s new Ariane 6 rocket. The new European launcher replaces Ariane 5, which was successfully launched over 100 times and has been in service since 1996. The Ariane 6 payload fairings, up to 20 meters high and 1800 kilograms light, are manufactured by Beyond Gravity at its Emmen site in Switzerland in a state-of-the-art, half-automated process.

Beyond Gravity helps shape the next generation of European launch vehicles: For the new Ariane 6 rocket, the leading global supplier for the space industry will supply the payload fairings. Just recently, the company, which has produced the payload fairings for all missions since Ariane's first flight in 1979, successfully delivered the last structures from Emmen (Switzerland) for its predecessor, Ariane 5.

André Wall, CEO of Beyond Gravity: “We are proud to have been a close partner to ArianeGroup for decades and to continue our joint success story also for the next generation of launch vehicles. Over the years, Beyond Gravity has manufactured more than 250 payload fairings for the Ariane launcher rockets and was instrumental in the development of the new payload fairing for Ariane 6.”

“This contract with Beyond Gravity is a new and key step towards a strong Ariane 6 European team” said Stephane Nogatchewsky, EVP Head of Procurement” ArianeGroup. “While the inaugural flight of Ariane 6 is getting closer and the industrial ramp up is intensifying, this collaboration is a positive and critical milestone for the future of Ariane 6 operations. Also, unifying European actors is paramount to ensure further A6 industrial robustness, competiti­veness and preserve European autonomous access to space.”

The two variants of the Beyond Gravity Payload Fairing offer two different sizes and consist of two half-shells that separate once they reach orbit. Accounting for one third of a launch vehicle’s total length and rising to the height of a six-story building, the 20 meters high larger variant (A64) safeguards the valuable cargo on its voyage to space. The smaller version is 14 meters high. Both versions have a 5.4-meter diameter, ensuring ample room for a variety of payloads. Thanks to the advanced carbon fiber composite design, the structure weighs only 1.8 to 2.6 tons and is therefore featherweight and stable at the same time.

“Rooted in a legacy of incremental inno­vation, our payload fairings are a testament to the strength, efficiency, and progressive ingenuity we continue to nurture at Beyond Gravity,” states Paul Horstink, Executive Vice President. "Our payload fairings stand as a formidable structure today, but we're not stopping there. Especially with the commercial market in mind, we are driving future innovations, such as further shortening lead times or exploring possibilities in reusability to redefine the boundaries of space exploration," said Paul Horstink.

State-of-the-art, cost-efficient production process

In technical terminology, the rocket tops are called "payload fairings". Their main task is to protect the satellites from high temperatures, solar radiation, dust, moisture or rain at the launch site before launch. In the first minutes of flight, it is primarily the noise, the enormous frictional heat and the mechanical stresses from which the payload fairings reliably protect the satellites encapsulated beneath them. In a semi-automated process, Beyond Gravity manufactures each half-shell in one piece from carbon fiber composite material that is "cured" in an industrial oven without the use of an autoclave. This reduces costs and speeds up production.

Ariane 6 Europe’s next generation launch vehicle

Ariane 6, a program of the European Space Agency (ESA), is a family of launchers designed to offer maximum flexibility to customers in the institutional and commercial markets. Due to its large volume under the payload fairing, Ariane 6 can perform classic single or dual launches as well as complex missions that meet new market requirements, such as launching satellites with electric propulsion or multiple launches of constellation satellites. The launcher will be available in two versions, depending on the mission: The Ariane 64 with four boosters can carry more than 12 tons into geostationary transfer orbit (GTO) with a dual launch. The Ariane 62 with two boosters can carry more than 4.5 tons of payload into GTO or seven tons into SSO. More info: