(ESA/CNES joint press release) The first qualification test on the cyrogenic main stage of Europe's Ariane-5 launcher, lasting 10 minutes 29 seconds, was performed successfully on 15 December on the ELA-3 launch site at the Guiana Space Centre, Europe's Spaceport, in Kourou, French Guiana.
The test was carried out by CNES teams under the responsibility of the stage authority, Aérospatiale. The Q2 test, which will be the second qualification test on the main stage, is scheduled for early January.
These two tests follow a campaign of development tests on the cryogenic stage's propulsion unit which ended on 23 November with the M5 firing.
The other elements of the Ariane-5 launcher, including the solid booster stages, storable propellant stage, fairing, Speltra (payload bearing structure) and vehicle equipment bay, have also been qualified.
After the Q2 test in early January, the main events leading to the first Ariane-5 launch (501 flight) will be as follows:
shipment of launcher elements for the 501 flight (except the solid booster stages, which are manufactured in Guiana): first half of February 1996
- start of flight 501 campaign: 21 February 1996
In view of the specific operations involved in this first launch campaign, and making allowance for any temporary setbacks, the target date for the launch has been set at 7 May 1996.
In parallel with completion of the Ariane-5 development tests, a launcher qualification review began in June 1995 for the purpose of ensuring that the degree of on-the-ground qualification is sufficient for the 501 launch to go ahead. A first report will be delivered in February.
The European Space Agency has delegated the management of its Ariane-5 programme to CNES, the French space agency.