Monday, July 3, 2023

The French Ariane 5 rocket faces a bittersweet ending on Tuesday

From Ars technica, July 3:

After nearly three decades, the Ariane 5 rocket reaches the end of the line.

The Ariane 5 rocket has had a long run, with nearly three decades of service launching satellites and spacecraft. Over that time, the iconic rocket, with a liquid hydrogen-fueled core stage and solid rocket boosters, has come to symbolize Europe's guaranteed access to space.

But now, the road is ending for the Ariane 5. As soon as Tuesday evening, the final Ariane 5 rocket will lift off from Kourou, French Guiana, carrying a French military communications satellite and a German communications satellite to geostationary transfer orbit. A 90-minute launch window opens at 5:30 pm ET (21:30 UTC). The launch will be webcast on ESA TV....

....The rocket has also lifted a number of important space science missions, including the Rosetta, Herschel, Planck, BepiColombo, and JUICE spacecraft. Perhaps the rocket's most notable launch came in December 2021, when it lofted the James Webb Space Telescope for NASA into a very precise orbit.

Because Webb did not need to expend any onboard fuel to correct its orbit, NASA was able to double its estimated lifetime for the mission. A NASA systems engineer, Mike Menzel, said an agency analysis found that Webb has enough propellant on board for 20 years of life, up from its original estimate of 10 years....


Thanks Ariane 5. 

And at ArianeSpace:

The new targeted launch date for Heinrich-Hertz-Satellit and SYRACUSE 4B is July 4.