21 October 1998
The Atmospheric Reentry Demonstrator capsule (ARD) was released by the Ariane 503 launcher as planned, shortly after separation of the launcher's cryogenic main stage, at 16h49min21sec (UT) at an altitude of about 216 km, 12 minutes after lift-off which occurred at 16h37min21sec (UT).
The telemetry link was established with the Libreville downrange station at H0 + 17min and with the first ARIA tracking aircraft at H0 + 1h15min, prior to the black-out phase (black-out caused by atmospheric ionisation phenomena). On emergence from black-out, the link was restored with the second ARIA-2 at H0+1h22min. Visual contact was established between the capsule and the helicopter airborn from the "Prairial" vessel.
Splashdown took place at H0+1h43min at a point situated between the Marquises and Hawaii.
The recovery vessel is currently en route for the splashdown location and is expected to arrive at 22h00 UT Built by Aérospatiale (France) for ESA, the ARD tests and qualifies new technologies and flight control capabilities during atmospheric reentry and landing.