Spaceflight Now


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.

Winds aloft keep Ariane 5 rocket on the launch pad

Posted: December 28, 2010

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday's planned launch of the year's sixth and final Ariane 5 rocket from South America was postponed due to unfavorable high-altitude winds.

Credit: Arianespace
Liftoff had been scheduled for 2126 GMT (4:26 p.m. EST) from the Kourou launch site in French Guiana, but the countdown was halted at the Minus-7 minute mark because of the winds aloft.

After waiting a half-hour into the evening's 59-minute launch opportunity, officials declared a scrub for the day.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I'm sorry to have to tell you but the latest wind measurements that we have made just before the launch are not good, which means we are unable to guarantee the safety of the launch operation," said Joel Barre, the French space agency's head of the Guiana Space Center.

"Obviously the spacecraft have been put into secure conditions, as has the launch vehicle. We'll take a look at the situation to confirm the launch for tomorrow, provided that the weather conditions allow for it," said Jean-Yves Le Gall, chairman and CEO of Arianespace. "Have a good evening and see you tomorrow, I hope."

Wednesday's launch window opens at 2127 GMT (4:27 p.m. EST).

Arianespace Flight 199 will carry a pair of commercial communications satellites into geosynchronous transfer orbit, deploying the Spanish Hispasat 1E and South Korea's Koreasat 6 spacecraft.

Preparations for this launch campaign have been underway since assembly of the rocket's stages began on November 10. The two payloads arrived in Kourou a month ago for final testing and fueling for flight.

The satellite duo, weighing a combined 18,000 pounds, joined the Ariane 5 for attachment last Tuesday and Wednesday. Once a launch rehearsal was completed on Thursday, the rocket was armed and then yesterday traveled from the assembly building to the pad.

The countdown sequence had started just before 1000 GMT (5 a.m. EST) this morning, with fueling of the vehicle with supercold liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen commencing around 1630 GMT (11:30 a.m. EST).

Ariane 5 has launched 10 satellites in its five previous missions this year.