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The Ariane 5 lifted off on schedule at 13h25mns and 1 second CET from the European spaceport in Kourou (French Guiana), carrying Galileo satellites 23, 24, 25 and 26.
The launch performance achieved by this Ariane 5 ES into a circular MEO (Medium Earth Orbit) at an altitude of 29 600 km kilometres was 3,284 kilograms (of which the satellites comprised 2,866 kilograms). The satellites were launched using a 416-kilogram dispenser system developed and constructed by ArianeGroup specifically for Galileo launches on Ariane 5.
These were the last Galileo satellites to be launched using an Ariane 5. The next 4 satellites for the constellation will be put into orbit in pairs by two Ariane 62, as stipulated in the contract signed last September by Arianespace and ESA, on behalf of the European Commission (DG GROW) and the European Union. Ariane 62 is the new version of the Ariane 6, equipped with two solid P120C boosters and a re-ignitable Vinci engine for the upper stage.
Ariane 5 has performed brilliantly in highly complex missions and has broken all records. I am looking forward to celebrating its 100th launch in September of this year. I would like to thank ESA and the European Commission for once again having entrusted our subsidiary Arianespace with this emblematic mission, and deciding to get on board Ariane 6, with the launch of the next 4 Galileo satellites.”
Today’s launch was carried out by an Ariane 5 ES version, previously deployed successfully for the launches of all five European Automated Transfer Vehicles (ATV) , as well as for the launch of eight other Galileo satellites- four in November 2016 and four in December 2017. This was also the last launch of the ES version; all upcoming Ariane 5 launches will be made by ECA versions, including the 3 additional Ariane 5 launches planned by the end of the year.
Representing cutting-edge European expertise, the Ariane 5 launcher is one of the largest and most ambitious space programs in the world. Its flexibility enables it to transport heavy payloads into low Earth orbit, two satellites into geostationary transfer orbit, single satellites with an optimised lifetime or, as it is the case today, several satellites into medium orbit.
ArianeGroup is the industrial prime contractor for the development and deployment of Ariane 5 and Ariane 6 launchers. The company coordinates an industrial network of more than 600 companies (including 350 SMEs) in 13 European countries. ArianeGroup oversees the entire industrial supply chain, from performance optimisation and the corresponding studies associated with the Ariane 5 to production, from the supply of mission-specific data and software to the marketing of the launcher through Arianespace. This chain includes equipment and structures, engine manufacturing, integration of the various stages and finally launcher integration in French Guiana.
The Ariane VA244 flight in figures:
- 99th launch of an Ariane 5
- 8th launch of an Ariane 5 ES