One of the last major milestones in preparations for Flight 162 was completed yesterday with the rollout of the giant Ariane 5G with SMART-1 and fellow passengers to the launch zone. Everything looks set for launch tonight. The 19-minute-long launch window opens at 01:02 CEST (23:02 UT).
Riding atop its massive mobile launch table, the Ariane 5 moved on the 2.8-km.-long twin rail line that links the final assembly building with the launch zone. Once in the launch zone, the table was locked into position over the large flame ducts that direct exhaust from Ariane 5's two solid rocket motors and the core stage's Vulcain cryogenic main engine. Fuelling takes place today at the launch zone.
Preparations for the launch are not confined to the Spaceport. At ESA's operations centre in Darmstadt launch dress rehearsals have been under way and the Operations team is gearing up for tonight's launch.