Arianespace is maintaining the sustained Ariane 5 launch pace in 2008, with this year’s fourth launcher now undergoing its initial buildup at the Spaceport in French Guiana. The heavy-lift Ariane 5 ECA was delivered on Monday, May 12, by the MN Colibri - one of two roll-on/roll-off seagoing ships that transport launcher components from Europe to the launch site in South America. Within hours of the MN Colibri’s arrival at Pariacabo port in Kourou, the Ariane 5 components had been unloaded and transferred to the Spaceport’s Launcher Integration Building. This was followed by the cryogenic main stage’s erection and positioning over one of two operational mobile launch tables for the heavy-lift vehicle.
The next step was the rollout of Ariane 5’s two solid rocket boosters, which are produced and assembled at the Spaceport. They will be mated to the cryogenic main stage, completing the propulsion system used for Ariane 5’s liftoff and its first phase of flight.
This fourth Ariane 5 mission will be another dual-passenger launch, continuing Arianespace’s flexibility in responding to its customers’ mission timing needs.
Arianespace is targeting the busiest year of Ariane 5 operations since the launcher’s 1999 commercial introduction, with a total of seven missions scheduled during 2008. Two on-target accurate flights already have been performed this year: the historic launch of an Ariane 5 ES version on March
9 with Europe’s Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) for the International Space Station; and the April 18 dual-payload Ariane 5 ECA success with Star One C2 and VINASAT-1.
The third Ariane 5 mission of 2008 is in its final phase of preparations, with liftoff scheduled for the evening of May 30 to allow for complementary checks of the launch vehicle. This flight will carry the U.K.’s Skynet 5C military communications satellite and Turkey’s Turksat 3A civilian telecom relay platform.
Follow the launch activity with our Mission Updates on Arianespace’s Website: www.arianespace.com.
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