The first long-duration firing of the cryogenic main stage of the Ariane-5 European launcher took place at 21:56 hours (Paris time) on Friday, 16 June at the Guiana Space Centre, Europe's spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.
All the objectives that had been set were attained during the test, which lasted 590 seconds compared with a nominal in-flight operating time of 570 seconds.
Initial analysis of the data shows that the Vulcain engine, for which SEP (France) is responsible, and the cryogenic main stage, for which Aérospatiale (France) is responsible, performed satisfactorily.
Following the three tests already carried out, five other development and qualification tests on the cryogenic main stage are planned and the success of this first long- duration firing means that 6 November 1995 can now be set as the date for the start of the campaign for the first Ariane-5 qualification flight (501); combined launcher/satellite operations would then start on 3 January 1996 with a view to the 501 flight taking place on 17 January. The target date for the second launch (the 502 flight) is 29 May 1996.
The cryogenic main stage is part of ESA's Ariane-5 programme, the management of which has been delegated to CNES.
(*) The cryogenic main stage, standing over 30 metres high and with a diameter of 5.4 metres, is powered by the Vulcain cryogenic engine providing 112 tonnes of thrust for 570 seconds. In flight, the stage tanks contain 132 tonnes of liquid oxygen and 27 tonnes of liquid hydrogen.