PHOTOS: ATV encapsulated inside Ariane shroud


Posted: March 2, 2012

Technicians working inside the Ariane 5 launcher's final assembly building in French Guiana carefully lowered the rocket's payload fairing over a European space station resupply craft this week, completing the vehicle's assembly ahead of liftoff.

But officials Friday ordered a launch delay to ensure cargo bags inside the spacecraft are properly secured for flight. The fairing will be removed to allow workers to enter the Automated Transfer Vehicle to tighten belts around two cargo bags.

Comprising two halves, the payload fairing spans 5.4 meters, or 17.7 feet, in diameter. It is manufactured by RUAG Space in Zurich.

The Ariane 5 will orbit the European Space Agency's third ATV, which is loaded with seven tons of cargo, propellant, water and breathing air for the International Space Station.

Launch from the Guiana Space Center is now set for around March 23.

Photo credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace

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