Ariane 5 - fifth launch of six in 2007
Yesterday evening, an Ariane 5 ECA launcher lifted off from Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana on its mission to place two satellites into geostationary transfer orbits. Lift-off of flight V179 took place at 22:06 GMT/UTC (19:06 local time, 23:06 CET/Paris). The satellites were accurately injected into the correct transfer orbits about 30 minutes later.
The payload comprised Skynet 5B, a secure telecommunications satellite for the British armed forces, and Star One C1, a
This fifth launch of the year keeps Arianespace and Europe's Spaceport on target to perform six Ariane 5 launches in 2007 as they head towards their target of seven to eight missions per year in the coming years. Preparations for the sixth flight of 2007 are already under way.
The Ariane 5's cryogenic, liquid fuelled, main engine was ignited first. Seven seconds later, the solid fuel rocket boosters were also fired, and a fraction of a second after that, the launch vehicle lifted off.
The solid boosters were jettisoned 2 min: 19 sec after main engine ignition, and the fairing protecting the payload during the climb through the Earth's atmosphere was discarded at 3 min: 10 sec. The launcher's main engine was shut down at 8 min: 58 sec; six seconds later the main cryogenic stage separated from the upper stage and its payload.
Four seconds after main stage separation, the engine of the launcher's cryogenic upper stage was ignited to continue the journey. The upper stage engine was shut down at 24 min: 56 sec into the flight, at which point the launch vehicle was travelling at 9377 metres per second (just over 34 800 km/h) at an altitude of 626.1 kilometres and the conditions for geostationary transfer orbit injection had been achieved.
At 27 min: 12 sec after main engine ignition, Skynet 5B separated from the launcher, followed by Star One C1 at 33 min: 47 sec.
Ariane 5 ECA
Ariane 5 ECA is the latest version of the Ariane 5 launcher. It is designed to place payloads weighing up to 9.6 tonnes into geostationary transfer orbit. With its increased capacity Ariane 5 ECA can handle dual launches of very large satellites.