Last Special Bulletin: Ariane 502 Flight Succeeds
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Ariane 5, a new success story begins
The European new-generation launcher ARIANE 5 successfully lifted-off today 3 October 1997 from the Guiana Space Centre, Europe's Space Port, in Kourou, French Guiana at 10:43 a.m; Kourou time (01:43 p.m. GMT, 02.43 p.m. CET) seven seconds after ignition of the Vulcain engine that powers the main stage.
The two solid propellant boosters lifted the ARIANE 5 launcher during the first part of the flight before separating from the main stage. The fairing that shrouds the payload during ascent phase was jettisoned three minutes after lift-off. Final injection was performed by the storable propellant stage, which ignited ten minutes after lift-off.
The first flight data from the launcher are under analysis. In-depth analysis of flight data will be performed in the coming weeks at CNES, the French space agency to which ESA has delegated management of its ARIANE 5 programme, and by European contractors working on the programme.
Twenty seven minutes into the flight MAQSAT H and MAQSAT B, platforms carrying instruments to analyse launcher flight behaviour, and the technology satellite TEAMSAT were ejected into orbit.
"Europe is once more in Space! This is another good example of what European cooperation can do", said ESA's Director General Antonio Rodot from the Launch Control Centre in Kourou. "All those who have consistently believed in Ariane, today have witnessed the start of a new success story. But it's only the beginning, there is still a lot of work ahead of us before this launcher can be made available to users all over the world," added Rodot.
"We owed it to Europe and we have made it", echoed Gerard Brachet, Director General of CNES. "The teams of experts, industry and all involved in this launch in Europe and French Guiana have done a great job. A further step towards qualification of the ARIANE 5 launcher has thus been taken, Bravo!"
This was the second test flight of ARIANE 5 after the failure of the maiden flight on 4 June 1996. The third qualification flight, under ESA and CNES reponsibility, is scheduled for spring 1998. Commercial ARIANE 5 flights, managed by Arianespace, will then begin with the fourth launch in the second half of 1998.
ANS thanks ESA for this information.
Ariane 5 Second Stage Engine Reportedly Shut Down Early
Despite the apparent successful flight of the Ariane 5 October 30, ANS has learned from several sources that the test may not have been a complete success. It has been reported that the second stage shut down earlier than planned causing the payloads to go into lower than expected orbits.
The Ariane 502 vehicle was launched at 1343 GMT Thursday October from Europe's launch center in Kourou, French Guiana, South America. The payloads consisted of a pair of instrumented masses designed to simulate simulate the masses of large communications and TV satellites.
Data collected during the flight indicates that the liquid-fueled core vehicle of the Ariane 5 rocket rolled in flight causing its Vulcain main engine to shutdown 10 to 20 seconds earlier than planned.
Therefore, the upper stage booster and attached payloads (MAQSAT H and B plus TEAMSAT) did not attain the prescribed velocity and hence went into a lower orbit than expected.
In addition, ESA said that the liquid-fuel core vehicle fell to Earth 5,000 miles from its projected impact site in the Pacific Ocean. As a result, aircraft scheduled to witness the reentry were unsuccessful in reaching area in time.
ESA officials are reported to have said that, had commercial satellites been aboard, their onboard propulsion systems would have enabled them to attain geostationary orbits, despite the lower than planned insertion. However, it has been conceded that such a correction might have resulted in a reduction in the satellites' overall life, possibly up to 10 percent.
It is unclear what effect, if any, the lower orbit will have on TEAMSAT; neither had its implications for Phase 3D, had it been aboard.
A third flight test of Ariane 5 is presently scheduled for sometime next spring.
ANS thanks several sources, including Peter Guelzow DB2OS for material used in the preparation of this bulletin.
Speaking for all the AMSAT organizations of the world, Dr. Karl Meinzer DJ4ZC, President of AMSAT-DL and Phase 3-D's Project Leader, has communicated his congratulations to ESA officials on the flight of Ariane 502. He termed the test a success despite the anomaly associated with the early shutdown of the second stage engine and expressed confidence that the cause of this difficulty will be located and corrected prior to the Ariane 503 test flight.
ANS thanks Karl Meinzer DJ4ZC for this bulletin information.
PRESS RELEASE 30/10/97 18:45
Teamsat has been successfully launched on the second qualification flight of Ariane 5. The first data shows that the satellite is working fine. ESA's operational centre (ESOC), has established proper communication after a small delay.
The first high quality data from the cameras of the VTS (Visual Telemetry System) experiment have been received and show clear images of the Speltra structure with the Earth and its horizon as background. Also the images of the AVS (Autonomous Vision System) camera have been received. The communication with the subsatellite YES, including GPS, has also been established.
About twenty young engineers from many European countries are staffing the Experiment Control Centre that has been set-up at ESTEC, the technical centre of ESA, using some twenty PC's with software mostly developed by the young engineers themselves.
The young engineers are extremely pleased that after many months of intensive work they are receiving such rewarding results. Not only the "youngsters", but also the experienced staff and technicians of ESA/ESTEC participate in the success of Teamsat.
The team will continue missions operation for approximately five days, depending on the lifetime of the on-board batteries.
The first results will be presented, following validation by ESA, on the Teamsat web page.
ANS thanks Peter Guelzow DB2OS for relaying this information.
KC8GOQ thanks everyone who showed up at the AMSAT chat held on the Internet Thursday evening, October 30. Plans are to hold them weekly at 9 PM Eastern Time (0200 UTC). Those interested may check in at http://members.aol.com/KC8GOQ/chat.html. Comments regarding a better time or day are welcome.
ANS thanks KC8GOQ for this information.
There will be no satellite status information this week due to illness of our regular ANS Editor, BJ Arts WT0N.
We all wish BJ a speedy return to the helm of ANS.
The previous Weekly Satellite Report was dated October 12, 1997.
[Please send your Satellite or News reports to ANS Editor B.J. Arts, WT0N, via e-mail, at email@example.com or to firstname.lastname@example.org]
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This week's AMSAT News Service bulletins were edited by AMSAT President Bill Tynan, W3XO, email@example.com.