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November 20, 2018: Production of the upper stage of the new Ariane 6 launch vehicle will soon begin in a new production hall near Bremen Airport. The upper stage is the heart and the brain of the rocket, whose maiden flight is scheduled for July 2020.
The size of the building on the edge of Bremen Airport is impressive. Just over a dozen tennis courts could be accommodated under the roof of the structure, which rises five storeys into the sky. But there is only a single machine in the hall – about six meters high, four meters wide, and weighing just over 40 tonnes. It is hard to believe that this colossus is designed for intricate work. “We work with tolerances in the range of tenths of a millimetre,” says Ralf Schleith, who manages production of the tanks for the European Ariane 5 launch vehicle at MT Aerospace. This vast hall in Bremen is his latest workplace – the machine will soon produce the first tanks for the upper stage of the new Ariane 6, which is set for its maiden space flight in 2020.