The fourth Ariane 5 for launch by Arianespace in 2012 is beginning to take shape with the assembly start-up of this heavy-lift vehicle at the Spaceport in French Guiana, which will orbit a dual-passenger payload later in the year.
During activity inside the Spaceport’s Launcher Integration Building this week, the Ariane 5’s core cryogenic stage was removed from its protective shipping container and raised into position over one of two operational mobile launch tables.
This step enabled rollout of the two solid propellant boosters for mating to the core stage. It is to be followed by integration of the cryogenic upper stage and vehicle equipment bay – completing the basic assembly for this Ariane 5 ECA version of Arianespace's workhorse launcher, and clearing the way for a subsequent transfer to the Final Assembly Building for payload integration.
This upcoming flight, which is designated VA208, will mark the 208th launch of an Ariane family vehicle since the maiden liftoff of an Ariane 1 version in 1979.
Date: Jun 7, 2012