Ariane 5 is transferred to the Final Assembly Building
The Ariane 5 for ESA's unique comet intercept mission is one major step closer to lift-off, following the vehicle's transfer to the Final Assembly Building on 10 February.
This milestone clears the way for the Rosetta spacecraft to be integrated on top of the Ariane 5 on a schedule leading to lift-off of Flight 158 from the ELA 3 launch complex in the early morning hours of 26 February.
The photograph above shows the nearly-completed Ariane 5 emerging from the Launcher Integration Building, at Europe's spaceport at Kourou, in French Guiana where the vehicle underwent its initial build-up. Towed by a special-purpose truck, the Ariane is installed on a mobile launch table that rolls along a dual rail track at the spaceport.
Transfer of the Ariane 5 began at 10.15 (local time) on Tuesday morning and lasted for 30 minutes.
The vehicle is shown as it leaves the Launcher Integration Building on its mobile launch table, which includes the umbilical mast on which the V158 flight number is inscribed.
('V' is for the French word vol meaning 'flight'.)
Halfway through the transfer process, the Ariane 5 and its launch table are framed by blue skies and French Guiana vegetation.
A temporary dome covers the launcher's central core stage, providing protection for the EPS upper stage and vehicle equipment bay.
Flight 158's Ariane 5 nears the completion of the transfer process as it approaches the Final Integration Building at the spaceport.
This building's height provides sufficient room for the Rosetta spacecraft and its protective payload fairing to be hoisted up and installed on top of Ariane 5.