Europe’s workhorse, the Ariane 5 rocket, will launch for the last time on Wednesday (July 5), and you can watch the historic launch live.
An Ariane 5 is scheduled to fly off from the European Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana today, during a 95-minute window that opens in 6 p.m. EST (2230 GMT, 7 p.m. local time in Kourou).
Watch it live here on Space.com, courtesy of Arianespace, the France-based company that operates Ariane 5 for the European Space Agency (ESA). The webcast will start at 5 p.m. EST (2100 GMT)According to Arianespace. That’s a lot of coverage, but this is Ariana 5’s swan song, after all.
The launch was delayed by one day, from 4 July, due to bad weather at the launch site and has been suspended since mid-June due to missile problems. “Due to unfavorable high-altitude winds over EuropeSpacePort, Arianespace has decided not to begin the final phase of launch preparations for #VA261,” Arianespace said. he wrote on Twitter early on July 4.
Related: Top 10 best Ariane 5 missile launches ever
Wednesday’s mission, which Arianespace will call VA261, will deliver a pair of satellites to geostationary transfer orbit (GTO), an elliptical trajectory high above Earth.
One of them, the German space agency Heinrich-Hertz-Satellit, will research and test new communication technologies and scenarios, Arianespace writes. Description of the task.
The other spacecraft, called Syracuse 4B, “will enable the French Armed Forces to stay in constant contact during deployments,” Arianespace wrote in the same description. “Syracuse 4B will be completely shielded from the most rigorous jamming methods. Designed to defend French sovereignty, the satellite will also be able to support NATO and EU-led operations.”
After deploying to the GTO, both satellites will make their own way into geostationary orbit, a circular path about 22,200 miles (35,700 kilometers) above Earth.
The launch landscape would look a little lonely without Ariane 5, which can transfer about 11 tons (10 metric tons) of payload to GTO and 22 tons (20 metric tons) to low Earth orbit. The missile debuted in 1996 and has launched 116 times so far.
Among the many spacecraft carried off Earth by Ariane 5 are the European Space Agency’s Rosetta probe, the first comet-orbiting spacecraft ever, launched in March 2004, and NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, which launched on Christmas Day in 2021.
Arianespace is developing a rocket called the Ariane 6 to replace the Ariane 5. The new heavy lifter was supposed to debut in 2020, but a series of delays has pushed its debut to late 2023 at the earliest.
The launch was originally scheduled for Wednesday, June 16, but was delayed after the mission team discovered potential problems with three fireworks transmission lines connected to the Ariane V rocket’s solid boosters.
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