Edoardo Amaldi Launch

ATV-3 Inside Fairing
Image Credit: ESA

Previously delayed, the European Space Agency is ready to launch the Edoardo Amaldi this evening. The mission is to provide supplies to the International Space Station, including a spare Fluids Control Pump Assembly (FCPA). This is a critical component on the ISS used to recycle urine into drinkable water and the spare is going up with ATV-3.

Following ESA’s formal Launch Readiness Review on Monday, which revealed no problems with the vessel, the launch was officially set for Friday 23 March at 0434 UTC. This is Thursday evening at 9:34 PM Phoenix time, tonight.

On Wednesday, Ariane and ATV Edoardo Amaldi were rolled out to the launch pad in Kourou, French Guiana. The total vehicle mass is 777 tonnes –the heaviest ever for an Ariane. This ATV is also the rocket’s heaviest payload so far.

As the launch countdown progresses, we will add updates and images from Kourou. Live video from Arianespace can be seen here.

At the moment, it is 3:34 PM in Phoenix, and we are six hours from launch.

The Ariane 5 carrying ATV-3 rolled out to the launch pad yesterday, Wednesday.

Rollout Wednesday
Image Credit: ESA TV

Rollout Wednesday
Image Credit: ESA TV

With four hours until launch, there are light rain showers. The temperature is 77° Fahrenheit. Thunderstorms are predicted for later tonight with 50% chance of rain.

One hour to launch.

At 9:16 PM Phoenix time, we are less than 20 minutes from the launch of the Edoardo Amaldi. All systems are currently green. This is the 65th Ariane 5

NASA TV is also covering the launch live.

At T-minus 7 minutes we are moving into automatic computer operations. Any operational problem would require recycling to T-minus 7.

T-minus 2 minutes, and weather is good, synchronized sequence is running.

Launch and everything looks good at the moment.

At three (3:00) minutes into the launch, the boosters have separated, and now we have fairing separation.

T-minus 14
T-minus 14
Image Credit: NASA TV

T-minus 9
T-minus 9
Image Credit: NASA TV

Launch of ATV-3
Image Credit: NASA TV

Ariane 5 Downrange
Image Credit: NASA TV

We now have Main Engine Cutoff. Stage Separation and second stage burn.

At twelve minutes into the flight, all systems are performing nominally.

At 18 minutes into the mission, ATV-3 is at altitude of 147.4 kilometers, and a velocity of 7.56 km/sec/

18 minutes into the mission
Image Credit: NASA TV

For die hard fans of the launch sequence and flight times, here is the ESA time-line for the Edoardo Amaldi Mission:

  • –11 hr 30 mn Start of final countdown
  • –4 hr 50 mn Start of filling of main cryogenic stage with liquid oxygen and hydrogen
  • –1 hr 10 mn Check of connections between launcher and telemetry, tracking and command systems
  • –7 min 00 sec ‘All systems go’ report at Launch Control Centre, allowing start of synchronised sequence
  • –1 min 00 sec Switch to onboard power
  • –04 sec Onboard systems take over
  • –03 sec Unlocking of guidance systems to flight mode
  • H0 Ignition of the Ariane 5 main stage engine
  • +7.0 sec Ignition of solid boosters
  • +7.3 sec Liftoff
  • +17.1 sec Beginning of roll manoeuvre
  • +2 min 22 sec Booster separation
  • +3 min 26 sec Fairing jettison
  • +8 min 54 sec End of main engine firing
  • +9 min 00 sec Upper stage separation
  • +9 min 07 sec Beginning of upper stage first burn
  • +17 min 18 sec End of upper stage first burn
  • +59 min 23 sec Beginning of upper stage second burn
  • +59 min 51 sec End of upper stage second burn
  • +1 hr 3 min 50 sec ATV separation
  • +1 hr 35 min 30 sec ATV solar array deployment complete

At the moment,all systems are green and ATV-3 is set to automatically dock with the Station’s Russian Zvezda module during the night of 28–29 March.


Successful Vega Launch

Vega Launch
Vega Launch From Kourou, French Guiana
Image Credit: ESA – S. Corvaja, 2012

The European Space Agency (ESA) added a new light launcher to the existing medium Soyuz and heavy Ariane 5 rockets available for satellite launches. The first Vega lifted off on schedule at 3:00 AM Phoenix time (1000 UTC), placing its payload of nine satellites in orbit.

A wide range of small satellites can be accommodated by the Vega rocket: from 300 kg to 2500 kg, depending on destination. The reference mission is a sun-synchronous orbit (700 km) for a 1500 kg satellite.

ESA Vega Set for Qualification Flight on 2/13/2012

ESA Vega Launch Vehicle VV01 On the Pad in Kourou, French Guiana.
Image Credit: ESA – S. Corvaja, 2012

The European Space Agency’s (ESA) newest launch vehicle VEGA is set for an inaugural flight on Monday, 13 February 2012. The vehicle is carrying nine satellites, and the launch window opens at 1000 UTC and closes at 1230 (3:00 AM – 5:30 AM Phoenix time).

The payload includes:

  • LARES laser relativity satellite
  • ALMASat-1 from ASI
  • seven CubeSats from European Universities

Flight Profile
ESA Vega Launch Vehicle VV01 Flight Profile
Image Credit: ESA- J. Huart, 2012

Ariane 5 Launch Day Two

When last we tuned in to the launch of Ariane 5 carrying Hispasat 1E and Koreasat 6, the weather had clamped a hold on the countdown as darkness descended.

The launch was scrubbed due to high winds at 2:57 PM Phoenix time (21:57 UTC), and rescheduled for this afternoon, with the same launch window - from 2:27 PM to 3:15 PM (21:27 to 22:15 UTC).

Live TV coverage resumes here at about 2:10 PM (21:10 UTC).

The weather is good and all systems are green. The high winds aloft have subsided.

Hold Due to Weather
Ariane 5 - Hold Due to Weather
Image Credit: Arianespace TV

Ariane 5
Ariane 5 - T-minus 12 minutes
Image Credit: Arianespace TV

At T-minus 7:00 minutes, the launch has gone into the automatic sequence.

T-minus 2 minutes.


At 1:30 all systems are functioning well.

At 2:30 into the flight, we have booster separation.

We are now 22 minutes into the flight, and all systems remain nominal. The second stage is performing flawlessly.

Ariane 5
Ariane 5 - Launch
Image Credit: Arianespace TV

90 Seconds
Ariane 5 - 90 Seconds After Launch
Image Credit: Arianespace TV

Ariane 5
Ariane 5 - Booster Separation From Ariane 5
Image Credit: Arianespace TV

Ariane 5
Ariane 5 - Boosters Falling Away
Image Credit: Arianespace TV

The second stage has completed its powered phase at 25 minutes into the flight. The velocity at this time is 9.3 km per second. Altitude is about 1000 kilometers.

At 30 minutes into the flight, the altitude is now 1500 km, and the velocity has dropped to 8.64 km per second. The Hispasat satellite has separated from the second stage. It is now on its way to a geostationary orbit. Koreasat will separate at about 35 minutes into the flight.

Ariane 5 Launch of HISPASAT 1E and KOREASAT 6

Ariane 5 Hispasat Launch
Ariane 5 Launch of Hispasat and Koreasat
Image Credit: Arianespace TV

Arianespace has rolled out its sixth Ariane 5 for its final mission of this year. The launch window on 28 December 2010 is scheduled to begin at 02:26 PM and end at 03:15 PM Phoenix time.

The workhorse vehicle was transferred to the ELA-3 launch zone from the Spaceport’s Final Assembly Building in Kourou, French Guiana, where the Ariane 5 was fitted with its dual-satellite payload of HISPASAT 1E and KOREASAT 6.

Ariane 5’s payload lift performance for this mission is a total of about 9,260 kg., which includes a mass of 8,170 kg. for its satellite passengers, along with the associated integration hardware and the launcher’s SYLDA multi-payload dispenser system.

Riding as the upper passenger in Ariane 5’s payload “stack” is HISPASAT 1E, which will be released at 27 minutes into the flight. This Space Systems/Loral-built satellite weighs approximately 5,320 kg., and is to provide high-quality capacity for Spanish operator HISPASAT’s new initiatives – which include direct to home television; digital terrestrial television; value-added broadband services in mobile, land and maritime environments; and high-definition television.

KOREASAT 6, which has an estimated liftoff mass of 2,850 kg., will be deployed from Ariane 5’s lower passenger position at approximately 34 minutes into the mission. Built by an industry team composed of Orbital Sciences Corp. and Thales Alenia Space for the Republic of Korea’s KT Corporation, KOREASAT 6 is to provide broadcasting and communications services across all of South Korea.

At 2:18 PM Phoenix time (21:18 UTC), we are on hold at T-minus 7 minutes due to weather.

At 2:30 PM, we are still on hold due to weather. All other systems are green.

In the meantime, Arianespace showed a review of the construction of the launch complex for the Soyuz system. The first Soyuz launch from Kourou is scheduled for April 2011. The manifest includes the Pléiades-1, ELISA (4 sats) and SSOT aboard a Soyuz-STA/Fregat vehicle.

At 2:40 PM Phoenix time, we have another 35 minutes in the launch window.

At 2:57 PM, the launch has been scrubbed and rescheduled for the same time tomorrow.

Hold Due to Weather
Ariane 5 – Hold Due to Weather
Image Credit: Arianespace TV

The first Ariane 5 Launch of 2011 will be on 15 February at 22:07 UTC. The cargo is the ATV-2 Johannes Kepler resupply vessel for the International Space Station.