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Another Ariane 5 launcher takes shape at the Spaceport


25 Mar 2011
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Key steps in the initial build-up of Arianespace’s fourth Ariane 5 for launch in 2013 are highlighted in the photos above. At left, the core cryogenic stage for Flight VA215 is raised for positioning over its mobile launch table, while one of the vehicle’s two solid propellant boosters rolls out for mating with the core stage (center). The photo at right shows Ariane 5 after installation of its “upper composite” section, consisting of the cryogenic upper stage and vehicle equipment bay.

Ariane Flight VA215

The Ariane 5 for Arianespace’s fourth heavy-lift mission in 2013 is coming together at the Spaceport as initial build-up procedures involving this workhorse vehicle are performed at French Guiana.

Located inside the Spaceport’s Launcher Integration Building, the Ariane 5 ECA version began taking shape this month during a multi-step process that opened with positioning of the vehicle’s cryogenic core stage over its mobile launch table. The two solid propellant boosters then were mated to the core stage, followed by installation of the cryogenic upper stage and vehicle equipment bay – which were pre-integrated as a single component.

It is the 71st Ariane 5 to undergo build-up at the Spaceport to date, using procedures that have become routine with this launcher’s operations from French Guiana. The upcoming mission is designated Flight VA215 in Arianespace’s numbering system – signifying the 215th Ariane-series vehicle since the family’s operational start-up in December 1979.

As Arianespace’s fourth heavy-lift launch in 2013 from the Spaceport, Flight VA215 will continue the year’s Ariane 5 mission activity that began in February on a dual-payload flight with the Amazonas 3 and Azerspace/Africasat-1a satellites, followed by an on-target deployment of Europe’s fourth Automated Transfer Vehicle in June for servicing of the International Space Station.

Complementing the 2013 activity to date were a pair of medium-lift Soyuz flights – one from the Spaceport in June with four O3b Networks spacecraft; and the other in February from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome, conducted by Arianespace’s Starsem affiliate to orbit six Globalstar second-generation satellites. In addition, the lightweight Vega performed a mission at the Spaceport in May, deploying the Proba-V, VNREDSat-1 and ESTCube-1 payloads.

Preparations for the third Ariane 5 flight this year are proceeding in parallel at the Spaceport, building toward a July 25 liftoff with two satellite passengers: the Indian INSAT-3D meteorological platform and Europe’s Alphasat telecommunications spacecraft.
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