Quality is focus of Arianespace following Ariane 5’s launch postponement
Arianespace has initiated a multi-phase effort to pinpoint and resolve the technical issue that postponed its initial Ariane 5 flight of 2010, as well as revalidate quality control procedures for the company’s workhorse heavy-lift launch vehicle.
A pressurization anomaly of the main cryogenic stage (EPC) during final countdown operations for Flight 194 led to the postponement on Friday, April 9 at the Spaceport in French Guiana, which was followed by the Ariane 5’s return to its Final Assembly Building on Saturday.
Launch team members have removed the component that caused the launch postponement – a pressure regulator for Ariane 5’s main stage – which has been sent to Europe for inspection by a task force. This comprehensive task force team involves representatives from Arianespace, the European Space Agency, France’s CNES space agency, Ariane 5 industrial prime contractor EADS Astrium, and associated technical partners.
In parallel, a quality audit has been created to analyze the underlying reasons for the technical difficulty, and to propose corrective measures.
“Arianespace remains committed to the highest levels of launch vehicle quality for our customers, who have come to expect this from us,” explained Arianespace Chairman & CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall. “Our focus now is on resolving the anomaly that postponed Flight 194, as well as ensuring that the ‘lessons learned’ are taken into account.”
The Ariane 5 and its dual-passenger payload of the ASTRA 3B and COMSATBw-2 satellites are in a safe condition in the Final Assembly Building, where both the launcher and satellites are being monitored in their standby mode.