(Joint ESA-CNES press release) The European new-generation launcher Ariane 5 successfully lifted-off today 30 October 1997 from the Guiana Space Centre, Europe's Space Port, in Kourou, French Guiana at 10:43 a.m.; Kourou time (1:43 p.m. GMT, 2:43 p.m. CET) seven seconds after ignition of the Vulcain engine that powers the main stage.
The two solid propellant boosters lifted the Ariane 5 launcher during the first part of the flight before separating from the main stage. The fairing that shrouds the payload during the ascent phase was jettisoned three minutes after lift-off. Final injection was performed by the storable propellant stage, which was ignited ten minutes after lift-off.
The first flight data from the launcher are under analysis. In-depth analysis of flight data will be performed in the coming weeks at CNES, the French space agency to which ESA has delegated management of its Ariane 5 programme, and by European contractors working on the programme.
Twenty seven minutes into the flight MAQSAT H and MAQSAT B, platforms carrying intruments to analyse launcher flight behaviour, and the TEAMSAT technology satellite TEAMSAT were ejected into orbit.
"Europe is once more in Space! This is another good example of what European cooperation can do", said ESA's Director General Antonio Rodotà from the Launch Control Centre in Kourou "all those who have consistently believed in Ariane, today have witnessed the start of a new success story. But it's only the beginning, there is still a lot of work ahead of us before this launcher can be made available to users all over the world" added Rodotà.
"We owed it to Europe and we have made it", echoed Gérard Brachet, Director General of CNES, the teams of experts, industry and all involved in this launch in Europe and in French Guiana have done a great job. A further step towards qualification of the Ariane 5 launcher has been taken. Bravo!.
This was the second test flight of Ariane 5 after the failure of the maiden flight on 4 June 1996. The third qualification flight, under ESA and CNES responsibility, is scheduled for spring 1998. Commercial Ariane 5 flights, managed by Arianespace, will then begin with the fourth launch in the second half of 1998.