2039 GMT (4:39 p.m. EDT)
Arianespace has confirmed a successful flight for the Ariane 5 rocket, marking its 64th success in a row since 2003.
2034 GMT (4:34 p.m. EDT)
The Sicral 2 communications satellite has deployed from the Ariane 5 rocket. Built by Thales Alenia Space, the spacecraft will serve the Italian and French armed forces for a 15-year mission.
2032 GMT (4:32 p.m. EDT)
Plus+32 minutes, 40 seconds. The Sylda dual-payload adapter has jettisoned, setting the stage for separation of Sicral 2 at Plus+34 minutes, 22 seconds.
2028 GMT (4:28 p.m. EDT)
Separation of Thor 7 confirmed, beginning a 15-year mission for Norway's Telenor Satellite Broadcasting. Thor 7's Ku-band and Ka-band payload will offer television broadcasts over Central and Eastern Europe and beam broadband services to offshore clients in the North Sea, the Norwegian Sea, the Red Sea, the Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean.
The Ariane 5's Sylda 5 dual payload adapter will be separated next, revealing the Sicral 2 spacecraft for its deployment in a few minutes.
2025 GMT (4:25 p.m. EDT)
Plus+25 minutes. The rocket's second stage shut down as scheduled. The upper stage is now maneuvering into the correct orientation for deployment of Thor 7.
2024 GMT (4:24 p.m. EDT)
Plus+24 minutes. The rocket is surpassing a speed of 20,500 mph. Shutdown of the upper stage is about a minute from now. A tracking station in Malindi, Kenya, is now in contact with Ariane 5.
2021 GMT (4:21 p.m. EDT)
Plus+21 minutes. The upper stage will shut down at Plus+24 minutes, 52 seconds, after reaching a target orbit with a low point of 155 miles, a high point of 22,328 miles, and an inclination of 6 degrees.
2018 GMT (4:18 p.m. EDT)
Plus+18 minutes, 30 seconds. Altitude is 190 km and velocity is 8.40 km/s. After intentionally losing altitude in order to gain speed, the Ariane 5 is now climbing again.
2017 GMT (4:17 p.m. EDT)
Plus+17 minutes. Everything is going well with the burn of the upper stage HM7B engine as the Ariane 5 races across the Atlantic Ocean at 8.15 kilometers per second, or more than 18,000 mph.
2014 GMT (4:14 p.m. EDT)
Plus+14 minutes. A tracking station on Ascension Island in the Atlantic Ocean has picked up signals from the Ariane 5.
2012 GMT (4:12 p.m. EDT)
Plus+12 minutes. This upper stage engine burn will last approximately 16 minutes.
2009 GMT (4:09 p.m. EDT)
Plus+9 minutes, 45 seconds. The Ariane 5 has passed over the horizon from Kourou and is now out of range of the Galliot tracking station near the launch pad.
2009 GMT (4:09 p.m. EDT)
Plus+9 minutes, 15 seconds. The main cryogenic stage's Vulcain engine has cut off and the spent stage has separated. It will fall back into the atmosphere into the Atlantic Ocean off the west coast of Africa.
And the upper stage's HM7B engine is now firing to inject the Thor 7 and Sicral 2 satellites into orbit.
2008 GMT (4:08 p.m. EDT)
Plus+8 minutes. Now in range of a communications station in Natal, Brazil, the launcher is about to shut down its first stage and ignite its cryogenic upper stage. Downrange distance is now about 1,200 km, altitude is 160 km and velocity is 5.68 km/s.
2005 GMT (4:05 p.m. EDT)
Plus+5 minutes, 30 seconds. Altitute is 160 km, downrange distance is 558 km and velocity is 3.37 km/s.
2003 GMT (4:03 p.m. EDT)
Plus+3 minutes, 30 seconds. Separation of the rocket's nose cone has been confirmed. The Ariane 5 core stage will continue burning until about Plus+9 minutes into the mission.
2002 GMT (4:02 p.m. EDT)
Plus+2 minutes, 30 seconds. The solid rocket boosters have been jettisoned from the Ariane 5 rocket's core stage after consuming approximately 480 metric tons of propellant. The liquid-fueled Vulcain 2 main engine continues to fire to propel the vehicle and its satellite payload to space.
2001 GMT (4:01 p.m. EDT)
Plus+60 seconds. The vehicle is on the proper heading as it rides the power of the twin solid rocket boosters and main stage liquid-fueled engine.
2000 GMT (4:00 p.m. EDT)
Liftoff of an Ariane 5 rocket on a dual-satellite delivery mission with Thor 7 and Sicral 2!
1959 GMT (3:59 p.m. EDT)
Minus-1 minute. A fast-paced series of events leading to launch will begin at Minus-37 seconds when the automated ignition sequence is started. The water suppression system at the launch pad will start at Minus-30 seconds. At Minus-22 seconds, overall control will be given to the onboard computer. The Vulcain main engine will be readied for ignition with hydrogen chilldown starting at Minus-18 seconds.
The residual hydrogen burn flares will fire beneath the Vulcain engine at Minus-6 seconds to burn away any free hydrogen gas. At Minus-3 seconds, onboard systems take over and the two inertial guidance systems go to flight mode. Vulcain main engine ignition occurs at Minus-0 seconds with checkout between Plus+4 and 7 seconds. If there are no problems found, the solid rocket boosters are ignited at Plus+7.0 seconds for liftoff at Plus+7.3 seconds.
1958 GMT (3:58 p.m. EDT)
Minus-2 minutes. The Vulcain main engine supply valves are being opened. And the ground valves for engine chilldown are being closed.
1957 GMT (3:57 p.m. EDT)
Minus-3 minutes. The scheduled launch time has been loaded into the rocket's main computer system. The main stage tank pressures should now be at flight level.
1956 GMT (3:56 p.m. EDT)
Minus-4 minutes. Pressurization is now underway for the main cryogenic stage's liquid oxygen and hydrogen tanks. Also, final pyrotechnic arming is starting.
1955 GMT (3:55 p.m. EDT)
Minus-5 minutes. All status panel lights remain green, indicating no problems right now that could prevent blastoff at 2000 GMT.
1954 GMT (3:54 p.m. EDT)
Minus-6 minutes. Liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen supplies of the main cryogenic stage are being verified at flight level. Also, the pyrotechnic line safety barriers are being armed.
1953 GMT (3:53 p.m. EDT)
Minus-7 minutes and counting.
The synchronized sequence has started. Computers are now in control of this automated final phase of the launch countdown to prepare the rocket and ground systems for liftoff. There are three computers running the countdown - one aboard the Ariane 5 and two redundant computers at the launch complex.
The launch time is set for 2000 GMT (4 p.m. EDT). Liftoff actually occurs even seconds later with ignition of the solid rocket boosters.
1951 GMT (3:51 p.m. EDT)
The countdown is set to resume in two minutes.
1946 GMT (3:46 p.m. EDT)
The issue with the range system at the Guiana Space Center has been resolved. The countdown will resume at 1953 GMT (3:53 p.m. EDT) to allow time for the Thor 7 and Sicral 2 communications satellites to be reconfigured for a new launch time.
1935 GMT (3:35 p.m. EDT)
Today's launch window extends until 2131 GMT (5:31 p.m. EDT).
1932 GMT (3:32 p.m. EDT)
Liftoff has been reset for 2000 GMT (4 p.m. EDT). The countdown is in an unplanned hold because the range at the Guiana Space Center went to a "red" status.
1930 GMT (3:30 p.m. EDT)
Minus-7 minutes and holding. The countdown has been stopped due to a problem.
1929 GMT (3:29 p.m. EDT)
Minus-8 minutes. The synchronized countdown sequence is supposed to begin in one minute, transferring all control over to computers.
1927 GMT (3:27 p.m. EDT)
Minus-10 minutes. The synchronized launch sequence will begin in three minutes.
1926 GMT (3:26 p.m. EDT)
Minus-11 minutes. All parameters, including weather and technical readiness, are reporting green on the status board inside the Jupiter control room at the Guiana Space Center.
1917 GMT (3:17 p.m. EDT)
Minus-20 minutes. The Synchronized Sequence is being prepped for activation. This computer-run sequence assumes control of the countdown at the Minus-7 minute mark to perform the final tasks to place the rocket and pad systems in launch configuration.
At Minus-4 seconds, the rocket's onboard computer will take over control of main engine start, health checks of the powerplant and solid rocket booster ignition commanding for liftoff.
1907 GMT (3:07 p.m. EDT)
Minus-30 minutes. Today's launch will deliver the DirecTV 14 and GSAT 16 communications satellites to an orbit targeting a planned high point of 22,328 miles, a targeted low point of 155 miles and an inclination of 6 degrees.
The satellites will use their on-board engines to raise their orbits and position themselves over the equator.
The Thor 7 telecom satellite occupies the upper position in the rocket’s dual-payload berth. Owned by Telenor Satellite Broadcasting of Norway, Thor 7 will support clients on the move with Ku-band and Ka-band transponders, relaying data, video signals and Internet connectivity to ships, offshore oil drilling rigs and other users across the North Sea, the Norwegian Sea, the Red Sea, the Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean.
The 10,119-pound Thor 7 spacecraft, built in California by Space Systems/Loral, will deploy first from the Ariane 5’s payload stack at T+plus 28 minutes.
A Sylda adapter will be discarded a few minutes later, revealing the 9,620-pound Sicral 2 spacecraft, the mission’s other satellite passenger.
Manufactured by Thales Alenia Space in France and Italy, Sicral 2 hosts ultra-high frequency and super-high frequency communications instruments for Italian and French defense authorities. The new satellite supplements Italy’s previous Sicral series of relay platforms and France’s Syracuse satellite communications network.
The Italian and French armed forces hold a 62 percent and 38 percent stake in the Sicral 2 program, respectively, according to Thales.
Separation of the Sicral 2 spacecraft from the Ariane 5 rocket is scheduled at T+plus 34 minutes, 20 seconds.
The payloads have a combined mass of approximately 21,720 pounds, or 9,852 kilograms, including the barrel-shaped Sylda dual-payload adapter.
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1847 GMT (2:47 p.m. EDT)
Minus-50 minutes. All parameters continue to look good for launch in 50 minutes. A communications check between ground stations and the rocket should be concluding now.
Some statistics on today's flight:
- 222nd Ariane rocket launch since 1979
- 78th Ariane 5 launch since 1996
- 46th Ariane 5 ECA launch since 2002
- 52nd flight of a Vulcain 2 engine
- 180th flight of an HM7B engine
- 66th Ariane 5 launch targeting GTO
- 2nd Telenor Satellite Broadcasting payload launched by Arianespace
- 47th Space Systems/Loral satellite launched by Arianespace
- 63rd military payload launched by Arianespace
- 141st Thales Alenia Space satellite launched by Arianespace
- 3rd launch from Guiana Space Center in 2015
- 1st Ariane 5 launch in 2015
- 22nd global space launch attempt in 2015
1837 GMT (2:37 p.m. EDT)
Minus-60 minutes. The Ariane 5's first and second stages are now loaded with cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellants.
The 17.7-foot-diameter first stage's Vulcain 2 engine burns 149.5 metric tons, or about 329,000 pounds, of liquid oxygen and 25 metric tons, or about 55,000 pounds, of liquid hydrogen. The cryogenic upper stage's HM7B engine consumes about 14.7 metric tons, or more than 32,000 pounds, of oxygen and hydrogen.
The fluids are stored at super-cold temperatures and naturally boil off in the warm tropical atmosphere in French Guiana. More propellant is slowly pumped into the rocket for most of the countdown to replenish the cryogenic fuel.
The topping sequence ends in the final few minutes of the countdown as the fuel tanks are pressurized and the fueling system is secured.
Built by a consortium of European contractors led by Safran in Vernon, France, the Vulcain 2 engine generates up to 300,000 pounds of thrust during its 9-minute firing. It burns about 320 kilograms, or 705 pounds, of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen propellant per second.
The engine's nozzle has an exit diameter of 2.1 meters, or about 6.9 feet. It weighs more than 4,600 pounds and its liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen turbopumps spin at 12,300 rpm and 35,800 rpm, respectively.
The Vulcain 2 replaced the Vulcain engine used on the initial version of the Ariane 5. The newer engine produces 20 percent more thrust.
The Ariane 5's upper stage is powered by an HM7B engine, a modified version of the HM7 engine used on the upper stage of the Ariane 4 rocket. The 364-pound HM7B engine is manufactured by Airbus Defence and Space in Ottobrunn, Germany.
The HM7B engine produces more than 14,500 pounds of thrust in vacuum.
The Ariane 5 configuration with a Vulcain 2 engine and HM7B-powered cryogenic upper stage is known as the Ariane 5 ECA.
The Ariane 5's twin solid rocket boosters are packed with propellant near the launch site in French Guiana before they are assembled and positioned on each side of the cryogenic core stage.
With the rocket now fully fueled for launch, the vehicle weighs 1.7 million pounds. At liftoff, the rocket produces 2.9 million pounds of thrust.
1730 GMT (1:30 p.m. EDT)
The Ariane 5 rocket's first and second stages, known by the French acronyms EPC and ESC-A, have been filled with liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. The first stage Vulcain 2 engine and the upper stage HM7B engine both consume the super-cold propellants.
The cryogenic propellant will be gradually pumped inside the rocket to maintain proper levels as the fuel evaporates over the rest of the countdown.
1555 GMT (11:55 a.m. EDT)
The weather forecast for this afternoon's launch at 1937 GMT (3:37 p.m. EDT) appears favorable, with a low risk of lightning and acceptable high-altitude winds.
Fueling of the rocket's first and second stages continues with super-cold liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen.
1500 GMT (11:00 a.m. EDT)
The countdown is underway for this evening's launch of an Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana, according to Arianespace.
Chilldown of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen propellant lines at the ELA-3 launch pad has begun. The chilldown procedure helps condition the ground plumbing before the cryogenic propellants are pumped inside the Ariane 5's first and second stages.
Workers finished their hands-on tasks on the launch pad, including the closure of doors, removal of safety barriers and configuring fluid lines for fueling. The ground team then evacuated the ELA-3 launch pad before the start of fueling.
FRIDAY, APRIL 24, 2015
Arianespace plans to launch an Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana on Sunday after fixing a disconnected helium vent line that required the launcher be returned to a hangar for repairs.
Read our full story.
1500 GMT (11:00 a.m. EDT)
Arianespace has postponed today's launch and is returning the Ariane 5 rocket to its assembly building to replace a faulty component, officials said.
The company plans to announce a new launch date later today.
0401 GMT (12:01 a.m. EDT)
With the Ariane 5 rocket positioned atop the ELA-3 launch pad in French Guiana, final preparations are underway for blastoff Friday with Norwegian and Franco-Italian communications satellites.
The countdown will begin at 0808 GMT (4:08 a.m. EDT) Friday, with clocks programmed for liftoff at 1938 GMT (3:38 p.m. EDT), or 4:38 p.m. local time at the launch site in French Guiana.
The launch window extends for one hour and 54 minutes.
A check of electrical systems is scheduled to occur around 1208 GMT (8:08 a.m. EDT).
Workers will also put finishing touches on the launch pad, including the closure of doors, removal of safety barriers and configuring fluid lines for fueling.
The launch team will begin the process to fuel the rocket with super-cold liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellants around 1438 GMT (10:38 a.m. EDT). First, ground reservoirs will be pressurized, then the fuel lines will be chilled down to condition the plumbing for the flow of super-cold liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen, which are stored at approximately minus 423 degrees Fahrenheit and minus 298 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively.
It will take approximately two hours to fill the Ariane 5 core stage tanks.
A similar procedure for the Ariane 5's cryogenic upper stage will commence at 1538 GMT (11:38 a.m. EDT).
Chilldown conditioning of the Vulcain 2 first stage engine will occur at 1638 GMT (12:38 p.m. EDT), and a communications check between the rocket and ground telemetry, tracking and command systems is scheduled for 1828 GMT (2:28 p.m. EDT).
The computer-controlled synchronized countdown sequence will begin seven minutes before launch to pressurize propellant tanks, switch to on-board power and take the rocket's guidance system to flight mode.
The Vulcain 2 engine will ignite as the countdown clock reaches zero, followed by a health check and ignition of the Ariane 5's solid rocket boosters seven seconds later to send the 1.7 million-pound launcher skyward.
Five seconds after blastoff, the rocket will begin pitching east from the ELA-3 launch pad, surpassing the speed of sound less than a minute into the mission. The Ariane 5's twin solid rocket boosters will jettison 2 minutes, 22 seconds after liftoff.
Once above the dense atmosphere, the launcher's payload fairing will fall away at an altitude of about 68 miles. The Ariane 5's first stage will shut down 8 minutes, 50 seconds after liftoff, followed moments later by stage separation and ignition of the hydrogen-fueled cryogenic HM7B upper stage engine.
The rocket's upper stage will fire for nearly 16 minutes, accelerating to a velocity of 21,000 mph, or more than 9.3 kilometers per second, to reach an orbit with a planned high point of 22,328 miles, a targeted low point of 155 miles and an inclination of 6 degrees.
The release of Thor 7 is scheduled for 28 minutes after liftoff. The rocket's barrel-shaped Sylda 5 dual-payload adapter will be jettisoned a few minutes later.
Sicral 2 will separate from the lower portion of the payload stack at 34 minutes, 20 seconds.
THURSDAY, APRIL 23, 2015
Rolling out for its first liftoff of the year, an Ariane 5 rocket journeyed out of a launcher assembly building Thursday and rode railroad tracks to its launch pad in French Guiana with two European communications satellites.
Read our full story.
TUESDAY, APRIL 14, 2015
Arianespace has postponed this week’s launch of an Ariane 5 rocket with two European communications satellites to replace a faulty fluid connector between the launcher and its mobile launch platform, officials said Tuesday.
Read our full story.