19 October 1998
On Friday 16 and Monday 19 October, the launch readiness review for Ariane 503 took place at the Guiana Space Centre, Europe's spaceport, in Kourou, French Guiana.
This review gives the go-ahead for the final countdown to a launch on Wednesday 21 October 1998 within the following launch window:
13 :00 to 14 :30 hours Kourou time 16 :00 to 17 :30 hours Universal Time 18 :00 to 19 :30 hours Central European Summer Time/Paris.
The launcher roll-out from the final assembly building to the launch zone is scheduled for Tuesday 20 October as from 0930 hours Kourou time.
This third Ariane-5 test flight will qualify the new heavy-lift European launcher for satellite injection into geostationary transfer orbit. The launcher will also carry the Atmospheric Reentry Demonstrator (ARD). This test spacecraft developed for ESA by Aérospatiale (France) will demonstrate reentry technologies for Europe.
Ariane-5 is a programme of the European Space Agency (ESA), which has delegated prime contractor responsibility for development of this new launcher to CNES.
Flight 503 is the final qualification flight, carried out under ESA responsibility. The launcher is the first unit of a production batch ordered by Arianespace from European industry. Launch operations at the ELA-3 launch complex at the Guiana Space Centre (CSG), Europe's spaceport, are conducted by Arianespace.