World’s first sailing hybrid industrial ship debuts with Ariane 6′ upper stage

The first flight model of the European next-generation rocket Ariane 6’s upper stage has been loaded onto Canopée, the world’s first wind-powered hybrid industrial cargo ship.

The operation was conducted by Germany’s seaport and logistics company BLG Logistics and took place at Neustädter Hafen in Bremen on February 6, 2024.

The milestone event marked two firsts – the first such operation for the 2022-built environmentally friendly special vessel and the first upper stage for the Ariane 6 that will soon fly into space.

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“We have been loading the completed rocket components in Neustädter Hafen for many years,” explained Matthias Magnor, member of the board and COO of the BLG Group.

As explained, the fact that the valuable cargo that is loaded there will one day be launched into space is something special even for the experienced employees in Neustädter Hafen.

The loading was actually planned a day earlier, according to the company. However, the weather conditions on Monday morning prevented the valuable cargo from being safely loaded. In the evening, the wind died down and loading could take place as planned.

The roll-on/roll-off (RoRo) ship left Germany for its next stop in the Netherlands before sailing to the launch site in French Guiana. In Guiana’s Korou, the European Space Agency spaceport, the heavy-lift rocket Ariane 6 is expected to be launched in mid-2024.

“Today is a good day for Bremen. With the delivery of the Ariane 6 upper stage, the Bremen space industry is continuing its impressive success story. The Ariane 6 with the upper stage made in Bremen is a central component of the European space program and an excellent ambassador Bremen in space. I would like to thank everyone who was involved in the planning and construction,” Bremen Mayor Andreas Bovenschulte commented.

“My congratulations go to the ArianeGroup teams in Bremen, whose tireless efforts have ensured that the first upper stage of the new Ariane 6 can be delivered today. Now we keep our fingers crossed for a successful one First launch of Ariane 6. It ensures Europe’s independent access to space, which has never been more important than today,” Kristina Vogt, Germany’s Senator for Economic Affairs, stated.

BLG Logistics

The Canopée ship designed to transport Ariane 6 is the first industrial hybrid ship that is also powered by wind energy. In addition to the two diesel engines, the Canopée has four wing sails provided by French company AYRO, which are said to reduce average annual fuel consumption by 30 percent.

In October 2023, the Canopée arrived in Neustädter Hafen for tests. The Canopée will collect all the parts of the Ariane and take them to Kourou, where they are assembled. 

Owned by the shipping company Alizés, Canopée won the Ship of the Year Award 2023.

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“This symbiosis of space exploration and environmentally friendly technology is not just visionary. It is also a very strong sign that we can integrate sustainable principles into all areas of our lives,” emphasized Matthias Magnor.