Ariane 5 rolls out for Arianespace’s Flight VA210: a photo report
An Ariane 5 rollout to the Spaceport’s launch zone always represents a key milestone in Arianespace’s mission preparation process, and offers the first opportunity to view the completed heavy-lift workhorse in its entirety.
Today’s transfer of the Ariane 5 for Flight VA210 was captured in pictures by the photographic team at Europe’s Spaceport, benefitting from sunny French Guiana skies. (Click on the images for a larger version):
A close-up photo of Ariane 5 inside the Spaceport’s Final Assembly Building highlights the logos of Flight VA210’s two passengers: Eutelsat Communications’ EUTELSAT 21B; and Star One C3 for Star One S.A. Accompanying the Eutelsat logo is a depiction of Africa drawn by Ghanaian student Michael Yeboah, who was a winner of last year’s DStv Eutelsat Awards – which encourage African students to embrace science and technology, along with creative thinking on applications that can support the continent’s development.
Team members prepare the hitch linking Ariane 5’s mobile launch table with the multi-purpose tug/tractor used for rolling out the heavy-lift vehicle to its launch zone. The availability of two operational launch tables enables the assembly, processing and checkout of separate Ariane 5s in parallel at the Spaceport, supporting Arianespace’s sustained mission cadence. As one Ariane 5 is completed in the Spaceport’s Final Assembly Building, another can undergo its initial build-up in the nearby Launcher Integration Building.
All is ready for Ariane 5’s transfer from its Final Assembly Building to the ELA-3 launch zone. The rollout is performed with a multi-purpose Titan tug/tractor, which is powered by a 540-horsepower engine and has two different transmission modes: a traditional torque-converter transmission function, and a mode that uses a hydro-static gearbox – allowing the engine to run at maximum power while its movement is controlled with precision to the millimeter.
The Ariane 5 for Flight VA210 begins its transfer from the Final Assembly Building. In the foreground is the dual-rail system on which Ariane 5’s mobile launch table travels during its rollout to the Spaceport’s ELA-3 launch zone. Tomorrow’s mission with EUTELSAT 21B and Star One C3 will mark the 66th flight of an Ariane 5.
This image, taken midway in the rollout, shows Ariane 5’s ogive-shape payload fairing that protects the two satellite passengers during the launcher’s initial climb-out. Visible on the fairing is a red and white logo for Star One C3, along with a decal signifying the role of Star One’s Brazilian parent company – Embratel – as a sponsor of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games. The total payload lift performance for Flight VA210 with the Star One C3 and EUTELSAT 21B spacecraft is an estimated 9,215 kg.
The Ariane 5 nears its final lock-down position in the Spaceport’s ELA-3 launch zone to complete today’s rollout. Surrounding the site are large towers that provide protection against lightning strikes. Also evident in this photo are the two large above-ground flame ducts that funnel exhaust from Ariane 5’s solid rocket boosters. Behind one of them is the ELA-3’s fixed launch tower, along with an adjacent water tower – which provides a deluge for acoustic damping during engine ignition and the Ariane 5’s liftoff.