Countdown. Ariane 5 rocket is scheduled to launch into space on Saturday. The Spatial Telescope James Webb waited at the firing point for the final count to begin on Friday, which could still be disrupted by erratic weather. If all goes well, the European operator should start at 9.20 on Saturday (13.20 Paris time).
In the middle of a large surface surrounded by barbed wire and Guyana forest, the white rocket was erected on the launch pad, a large movable steel structure that crowned itself with four giant lightning rod towers. So far only rain and wind have put some plaster on the machine, which has led to the postponement of the date.
The massive water tower nearby is meant to supply the “flood” at 30 tons per second, which would run under the engine when it was turned on, at set times. 9.20. To reduce the temperature to 3000 degrees, and above all to block out the sound wave shock from take-off, which can damage the electrical components on board. At about 180 decibels, it is the highest sound ever made by a man-made machine.
What is Ariane 5?
Ariane 5 is a European heavy lifting vehicle, developed and operated by Arianespace for the European Space Agency (ESA). It has been launched from the Center Spatial Guyana (CSG) in French Guiana. It has been used to deliver payloads to Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO) or Low Earth Orbit (LEO). The lift vessel had a series of 82 consecutive successful launches between April 9, 2003 and December 12, 2017. A direct successor system, Ariane 6, is under development.
Ariane 5 Mission and Stages
Ariane 5 Stages
Ariane 5 Trajectory
210 tons of hydrogen and liquid oxygen
Two long silver tubes connect the top of the table mast to the Ariane 5 aperture, which houses the telescope. Make sure it has cool and dry air conditioning, protect it from the ambient hot and humid air. Most sophisticated minimal surveillance equipment ever sent out into space.
Just below, two light yellow handles lead the fuel supply lines to the top step, and the bottom step is routed directly from the table. The rocket’s tank, which is still empty, will hold a total of 210 tons of hydrogen and liquid oxygen. These lenses are discreetly awaited in cabinets located at a good distance. Because it is their mixture, highly flammable, that would allow it to take off.
“When the filling maneuver begins in the morning at H-7, no one will be able to stay on site,” explains Jean-Marc Durand, deputy director of Arianespace Guyane. The missile will remain alone, with all its controls, including refueling, and then it will reach the launch center, which is 2.3 kilometers away. From the fortified part of this building, which was closed 45 minutes before take-off, the site manager and his team would give their orders to the operator, such as filling the tank, and receiving all the parameters.
During the day on Friday, the rows of tables lined up with screens in the middle were still empty, “because the sequence is going to start late,” defines Ariane 5 host Jerome Reeves at ArianeSpace. Even from Friday to Saturday it will be scrutinized throughout the night.
Along with the countdown, it starts from Jupiter’s control center, which should start at exactly 9:57. In this large “jar”, the operations department concentrates all the information that enables the coordination of the launch, explains Jean-Luc Meister, Deputy Director of Operations.
If RED does not arrive from the telescope, space base, operator or person in charge of the weather forecast, the operations manager will begin the synchronous sequence at H minus seven minutes. At that time, all operations will go into automatic mode, led by the control center and the rocket computer.
At H, the Ariane 5 Vulcan’s engine would start, but after just seven seconds, the two powder engines would ignite so the rocket could tear itself off the ground. All this beautiful ballet would only be possible when the weather is at stake, under a cloudy and windy sky.
At 13.00 on Friday, the forecast center gave the green signal. He will still send several weather balloons into the air, including less than three hours before that, to improve his forecast at launch. Last Friday at the center of Jupiter, a steward saw this interest in the sky as a good sign: “If we talk about the weather, it’s because everything has been done so well so far, Because it’s the last thing to see before launch .