22 February 1996
Preparations for the launch campaign for the first Ariane-5 qualification flight (501) are under way in Europe and at the Guiana Space Centre, Europe's spaceport. The main launcher elements (cryogenic main stage, storable propellant stage, vehicle equipment bay, Speltra and fairing) arrived in Kourou on 14 February on board the Toucan. The solid booster stages are assembled on site in Guiana.
The Flight Readiness Review for this first Ariane-5 mission (Ariane 501/Cluster) took place on 19 and 20 February at the CNES facilities in Evry, France. After detailed examination of the configuration and the quality of the hardware items making up the launcher, and with due regard to the status of current activities, the Review gave permission for the 501 launch campaign to start on 4 March.
Provided all operations proceed smoothly, the target date for the launch is now set at 15 May 1996.
The European Space Agency has delegated the management of its Ariane-5 programme to CNES, the French space agency.