Press Release

Ariane 5 delivers!

By SpaceRef Editor
February 28, 2002
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Arianespace’s heavy-lift Ariane 5 delivered another perfect
performance tonight, placing the massive Envisat environmental
satellite into a highly accurate orbit Sun-synchronous orbit.

The Ariane 5 lifted off from the Spaceport on the power of its
Vulcain cryogenic main engine and two solid boosters. The vehicle’s
EPS upper stage was used for the final propulsion phase, climbing to
the exact target altitude of 7,152.4 km. for release of the Envisat
payload.

Today’s flight was the 11th launch of an Ariane 5 and the eighth
commercial mission under Arianespace management. The success kicks off
a busy year for Ariane 5, with four other missions of the
new-generation heavy-lift launcher targeted by Arianespace for 2002.

“With the deployment of Envisat tonight, Ariane 5 is once again fully
operational, and this capable launcher gives us a lead over our
competitors,” declared Arianespace Chairman and CEO Jean-Marie Luton.
“Tonight’s accomplishment is the result of the hard and dedicated work
of a team that includes our industrial partners Astrium and EADS; the
French CNES and German DLR space agencies; the European Space Agency,
and Arianespace.”

Envisat is the largest environmental platform ever built by Europe,
and will provide an unprecedented look at the environment and the
impact of human activity on our planet. The satellite was developed in
a European Space Agency program, and it will be operated from ESA’s
European Space Operations Center (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany.

An industry consortium of 50 companies led by Europe’s Astrium
produced the Envisat spacecraft.

Meeting the launch time…to the second
The Envisat mission profile set a very specific launch time for
tonight’s flight: 10:07.59 p.m. at Kourou, and the countdown proceeded
without interruption to allow ignition to occur at the exact moment
desired.

Launch teams demonstrated the maturity of Ariane 5 by smoothly
handling a problem that occurred the night before liftoff. The vehicle
was transferred from its final assembly building during the morning of
February 27, but was rolled back after an umbilical tube was became
detached in the launch zone during the windy evening hours.

The umbilical was reinstalled during Ariane 5’s rapid visit to the
final assembly facility during the night. The vehicle rolled out once
again this morning – moving along the 3.5-kilometer-long rail track
leading to the launch zone. This activity occurred without
interruption to the countdown.

Arianespace managers said this operation validated the capability of
launch teams to handle such issues quickly, underscoring the maturity
of the Ariane 5 launch system.

The heavy-lift launcher of reference

Flight 145 also demonstrated Ariane 5’s ability to handle large,
heavyweight satellites. The mission’s 8,000-kg. Envisat polar platform
– which is 10 meters tall – was easily accommodated under the
launcher’s 17-meter long payload fairing.

One of Ariane 5’s primary missions will be carrying telecommunications
satellites to geostationary transfer orbit, and the heavy-lift vehicle
is the only operational commercial launcher with a proven payload
capacity of more than 6,500 kg. to geostationary transfer orbit (GTO).

Arianespace is targeting the service entry later this year of an even
more powerful, more competitive Ariane 5 capable of carrying 10 metric
tons to GTO. The increased performance, combined with Ariane 5’s
standard 5-meter-wide payload fairing, will enable Arianespace to pair
up many of the industry’s satellites for cost-efficient dual launches.

A further growth is planned for 2006, when Ariane 5’s GTO payload lift
capability is boosted to 12 metric tons.

Ariane 5 operations at the Spaceport are backed by the commercial
launch services industry’s most modern infrastructure. The launch
facility’s new S5 payload processing complex allows satellites to be
checked out, prepared and fueled within a single facility under the
most stringent clean room conditions. Envisat was the first satellite
to use the S5 complex for its complete preparation, fueling and
pre-launch checkout procedure.

Arianespace’s mission is set for the second half of March, using one
of Arianespace’s last remaining Ariane 4s. This mission will carry the
dual satellite payload of JCSAT-8 for Japanese operator JSAT
Corporation, and the Astra 3A spacecraft for Luxembourg-based operator
SES.

After tonight’s Envisat launch, the Arianespace backlog stands at 39
satellites to be launched, plus 9 ATV (Automated Transfer Vehicle)
servicing spacecraft for the International Space Station.

SpaceRef staff editor.