The countdown has begun again at the Guyana Space Center in Kourou. After the first postponement on June 16 for final checks, if all goes well, on Tuesday July 4 (between 11:30 pm and 1:05 am Paris time), the Ariane-5 rocket will take off carrying two satellites, one for observation – Syracuse 4b, for the French Directorate General of Armaments – and the other for Communications – Heinrich Hertz, on behalf of the German Space Agency.
In the Jupiter control room, the atmosphere will be even more tense for this situation in geostationary orbit 36,000 km from Earth as it is the last flight for this launch. That’s 117H The launch would bring to an end twenty-seven years of existence, marked by more than eighty consecutive successes.
This latest mission takes place at a pivotal moment in space history. Access to space has been reserved for decades by major American, European, Russian or Chinese public institutions, and access to space was shaken up by Elon Musk with SpaceX ten years ago. In 2013, the American billionaire suddenly imposed himself on launches, even becoming the reference.
Its progress is accelerating today, supported by the development of Internet-related services and 5G, which requires thousands of small satellites to be sent into low orbit 500 km from Earth to provide links. Thus, by shooting down a hundred launches this year, the Falcon 9 rocket will nearly as many as Ariane-5 over its career. It almost makes you forget that for more than twenty-five years the European rocket has been the space queen against American rivals Delta (Boeing), Atlas (Lockheed Martin) and Russia’s Proton.
In 1985, even before the Ariane 4 rocket made its first flights, the European Space Agency (ESA) decided to consider the next model. More ambitious, with the aim of putting large satellites into orbit and also for manned flights. During this meeting in Rome, a pre-study was launched at the same time as two other projects, Hermes, a shuttle capable of carrying five astronauts, and Columbus, a space station moving 400 kilometers around the Earth. Of these three major programmes, only Ariane-5 has made it to the end.says Jean-Marc Astorge, director of strategy at the National Center for Space Studies (CNES).
“We have designed a launcher completely different from its predecessors by designing new engines, doubling the power and above all opting for reliability with redundancy in all circles”According to him, the French National Center for Space Studies at that time was the main contractor for the Ariane program. The development was very great” [ils auraient] Very well, the name of the rocket could have been changed, but [ils voulaient] Maintain the picture of success provided by the Ariane 3 and 4 bombers.adds Jean-Jacques Dordin, Director General of the European Space Agency between 2003 and 2015.
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