A European Ariane 5 rocket took off Thursday for a dual satellite launch including a British-owned, U.S.-built broadband satellite and a Japanese military communications payload. A hydrogen-burning main engine and two solid-fueled motors boosted the rocket off French Guiana, successfully returning to service.
The rocket had its last mission in January where it had two spacecraft placed in the wrong orbit. From the launch pad on South America’s northern shore, Ariane 5 took off riding an almost 3 million pounds of thrust. Onboard the rocket is a guidance computer that guides its twin solid rocket boosters. The guidance computer steered the rocket’s boosters to spin their exhaust nozzle for the launcher to move towards the east of Guiana Space Center.
The center is a French-managed, European-funded spaceport close to Kourou, French Guiana. About two and a half minutes into the rocket’s flight, its solid-fueled boosters burned out and discarded. Associates of the Italian company Avio was the main manufacturers behind the boosters. Similarly, Ruag Space from Switzerland built the rocket’s nose fairing. It dropped away about a minute after the launcher’s flight.
According to the range operation’s manager from the space center, Arian 5 stayed on the right course as it headed to the space above the Atlantic Ocean. At around 9 minutes after liftoff, the launcher’s main engine – a core stage Vulcain 2 engine made by the French – shut down and detached. Around the same time, the HM7B upper stage made by the German ignited.
It consumed a mix of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen igniting for about 16 minutes until to it placed Hylas 4 and DSN 1/Superbird 8 into ta elliptical geosynchronous transfer orbit. When Ariane 5 reached the orbit, it released DSN 1/Superbird 8, the Japanese satellite, about 28 minutes into launch. The launcher dumped a composite structure just a few minutes later, which revealed the European satellite Hylas 4.
According to Arianespace, Hylas 4 satellite was deployed about 34 minutes after launch. Stephane Israel, chair, and chief executive of Arianespace declared success for Ariane 5’s mission moments after deployment of Hylas 4. Israel announced the successful and flawless performance of Ariane 5 in carrying its mission.
Ariane 5’s Thursday mission came about two months after the rocket’s January mission. Its last mission came off target, which investigators determined that launcher’s programmed coordinates put the rocket about 20 degrees off course the intended trajectory.