12 June 1997
The Director General of the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Chairman of the Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES, the French space agency), acting on the recommendation made following the Flight Readiness Review held on 5 and 6 June, have given the go-ahead for the Ariane 502 flight launch campaign to start today, 16 June, at the Guiana Space Centre, Europe's spaceport at Kourou in French Guiana. This decision follows detailed reviews conducted over the past few months on the launch vehicle itself and the corresponding ground facilities (see ESA/CNES release of 24 March).
Over the next few weeks, mechanical, fluid and electrical integration of the cryogenic main stage, the solid booster stage, the vehicle equipment bay and the upper stage of the launcher will be proceeding in the Launcher Integration Building, while preparatory work will be under way in the Final Assembly Building on the upper composite: the Speltra, the fairing and the payload made up of two technological instrument platforms, Maqsat H and B and two satellites: Teamsat (a satellite flying five European technology experiments and Amsat P3D (an international radio amateur satellite). Meanwhile, various tests, flight program functional simulations in particular, will be continuing in Europe.
These various operations are planned to lead to integration of the upper composite and filling of the upper stage and the attitude control system with propellant, the target date for the Ariane 502 flight now being set as from the end of September this year.