Mission Update

Mission Update

Assembly begins for the sixth Ariane 5 to be launched by Arianespace in 2009

September 9, 2009

Arianespace’s ability to maintain its Ariane 5 mission pace is underscored by the latest parallel launch campaign activity at Europe’s Spaceport, where two of the heavy-lift vehicles are being prepared for upcoming launches.

The photo report, below, provides highlights of the assembly start-up for the sixth Ariane 5 for launch in 2009, which is now being assembled in the Launcher Integration Building. 

Nearby in the Final Assembly Building, an Ariane 5 that earlier completed its build-up process is awaiting the installation of its two satellite payloads – Germany’s COMSATBw-1 military communications satellite and the Amazonas 2 commercial relay spacecraft for Spain’s HISPASAT.

Arianespace is planning a total of seven Ariane 5 flights in 2009 – making it the busiest calendar year of mission activity for this workhorse launch vehicle. (Click on the images for a larger version):

Mission team members use an overhead crane to remove the Ariane 5’s cryogenic core stage from its shipping container.  This is the first step in each new launch campaign for Ariane 5, and it the marks the assembly process start-up for the sixth heavy-lift vehicle to be used by Arianespace in 2009.

The cryogenic core stage is raised to its vertical orientation in the receiving dock area of the Spaceport’s Launcher Integration Building.  EADS Astrium Space Transportation has production responsibility for the 31-meter-tall stage.

This close-up photo details the Vulcain 2 engine as the core cryogenic stage is moved toward one of two mobile launch tables for Ariane 5.  The other launch table currently is in the Spaceport’s Final Assembly Building, on which the Ariane 5 for Arianespace’s late September mission is awaiting the installation of its dual-satellite payload.

The Ariane 5’s core stage is ready for its positioning over the mobile launch table in the Launcher Integration Building’s main assembly area – where the vehicle’s build-up is performed.  Once it is suspended in place, Ariane 5’s two solid propellant boosters will be moved in for mating on each side of the stage.

The first of Ariane 5’s two solid propellant boosters begins the transfer from its assembly area at the Spaceport.  This rollout uses a section of the Spaceport’s dual rail track that leads to the Launcher Integration Building, where the booster will be mated to Ariane 5’s cryogenic core stage.


Ariane 5’s second booster makes its way along the dual rail track as this component is delivered to the Launcher Integration Building.  The booster has a height of 31.6 meters and is installed on a pallet that will be transferred onto the Ariane 5’s mobile launch table.


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