Photo report: Ariane 5’s sunset launch with Arabsat-5A and COMS
Today’s liftoff of Ariane 5 came during the French Guiana sunset, providing a picture-postcard setting for this latest on-target dual-payload launch for Arianespace.
Departing at 6:41 p.m. local time in French Guiana, the heavy-lift Ariane 5 ECA vehicle deployed its Arabsat-5A and COMS satellite passengers into geostationary transfer orbit during a mission lasting 32 minutes.
These photos, taken from various camera positions at the Spaceport, highlights Ariane 5’s initial moments of its no. 2 launch of 2010. (Click on the images for a larger version):
The Ariane 5 is nearly clear of its mobile launch table’s umbilical mast during climbout from the Spaceport’s ELA-3 launch complex. Surrounding the launch zone are four large towers that provide protection from lightning strikes. Arianespace’s June 26 mission with Ariane 5 marked the workhorse vehicle’s 51st liftoff from French Guiana.
Framed by palm trees, Ariane 5 gains altitude under the power of its Vulcain 2 cryogenic main engine and its two solid rocket boosters. All three propulsion system elements are ignited prior to liftoff, beginning with the Vulcain 2 – whose operation is fully verified during seven seconds before the ignition command is given for the solid boosters.