December 11 - new liftoff date for the 10-tonne Ariane 5

December 10, 2002

Arianespace has announced that the first launch of the new Ariane 10 tonne will take place on December 11. This date was confirmed following replacement of two external chill-down igniters on the Ariane 5's launch table.

The igniters were replaced after the original countdown for Flight 157 was interrupted on November 28 in the final seconds due to an anomaly with data concerning the igniters' operation. While the igniters are not a direct part of the Ariane 5, they do perform an important task by burning off accumulated hydrogen used to chill down the launcher's Vulcain 2 cryogenic main engine before it begins operation.

Testing determined that sensors responsible for signaling the igniters' correct operation did not function properly during the November 28 countdown, resulting in the launch scrub.

Preparations are now on track for Ariane 5's rollout to the ELA-3 launch zone of Europe's spaceport on December 10, ready for an evening liftoff on December 11. The launch window opens at 19:22 hours Kourou time and continues to 20:14.

Flight 157 will carry two satellite payloads, demonstrating the Ariane 5's capability to pair up all types of spacecraft for efficient dual launches. The first satellite to be deployed will be the Eutelsat HOT BIRDTM 7 TV broadcast platform, followed minutes later by the French CNES space agency's Stentor telecom demonstrator spacecraft.

European Space Agency

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