Spaceflight Now Home


Sign up for our NewsAlert service and have the latest news in astronomy and space e-mailed direct to your desktop.

Enter your e-mail address:

Privacy note: your e-mail address will not be used for any other purpose.

Flight 181: Ariane 5/ATV Launch Timeline
Posted: March 5, 2008;
Updated March 7 with upper stage deorbiting time

NOTE: GMT is +5 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time.

H0 Main Engine Ignition
0403:04 GMT - The Ariane 5 rocket's first stage Vulcain 2 main engine ignites and undergoes a thorough health check on the launch pad.
H0+00:07 Launch
0403:11 GMT - Producing about 2.6 million pounds of thrust, the Ariane 5 rocket's two solid rocket boosters ignite to lift the launcher into the sky.
H0+00:13 Start Pitch Maneuver
0403:17 GMT - The Ariane 5 rocket begins to pitch over after rising vertically from the ELA-3 launch pad.
H0+00:17 Start Roll Maneuver
0403:21 GMT - The Ariane 5 rocket starts its roll maneuver to head northeast away from the Guiana Space Center.
H0+02:19 Booster Separation
0405:23 GMT - The solid rocket boosters exhaust their propellant and are jettisoned from the Ariane 5's first stage at an altitude of about 41 miles.
H0+03:29 Jettison Payload Fairing
0406:33 GMT - The two halves of the Ariane 5's payload fairing are jettisoned once the rocket leaves the thick lower atmosphere.
H0+08:55 Main Stage Shutdown
0411:59 GMT - The cryogenic first stage's Vulcain 2 main engine shuts down.
H0+09:01 Stage Separation
0412:05 GMT - Explosive bolts fire to separate the Ariane 5's first and second stages.
H0+09:08 Upper Stage Ignition 1
0412:12 GMT - The upper stage's Aestus engine, burning hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide storable propellants, ignites to continue the push toward orbit.
H0+17:13 Upper Stage Shutdown 1
0420:17 GMT - The upper stage's Aestus engine shuts down after reaching a preliminary parking orbit stretching from about 85 miles to 162 miles in altitude.
H0+62:10 Upper Stage Ignition 2
0505:14 GMT - Flying over southeast coast of Australia, the Aestus engine ignites for a second time to deliver the Automated Transfer Vehicle to its injection orbit.
H0+62:40 Upper Stage Shutdown 2
0505:44 GMT - The powered portion of the Ariane 5's mission ends when the Aestus engine cuts off, arriving in a 162-mile-high circular orbit with an inclination of 51.6 degrees.
H0+66:39 ATV Separation
0509:43 GMT - The Automated Transfer Vehicle is deployed from the Ariane 5's upper stage.
H0+144:27 Upper Stage Deorbiting
0627:31 GMT - The Ariane 5 upper stage fires for a third time to guide the spent rocket body toward a destructive re-entry over the Pacific Ocean. The engine burn should last about 16 seconds.

Data Source: Arianespace and EADS