First qualification flight

Artist's impression of an Ariane 5 ECA

Ariane 5 ECA's first flight on 11 December 2002 was unsuccessful. The enquiry board identified the probable cause as a leak in the Vulcain 2 nozzle’s cooling circuit. Modifications have been made to the nozzle and intensive and stringent tests carried out for its re-qualification.

For two years, activities were also conducted on other elements of the launcher, as well as at system and ground levels, to make the launcher more robust.

The first successful qualification flight of the Ariane 5 ECA took place on 12 February 2005 and a second successful flight on 16 November 2005 led to the full re-qualification of the Vulcain 2 engine. On both flights, the new ESC-A stage operated flawlessly and delivered the payloads nominally on the target GTO orbit.

The Ariane 5 ECA is back on track to become the European launcher workhorse for the coming decade.

Last update: 2 December 2005

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