Europe’s Ariane 5 rocket is being prepared for its final flight. You can follow the launch live on ESA Web TV. Flight VA261 will lift off as soon as 16 June at 23:26 CEST, pending suitable conditions for launch.
- Broadcast begins 22:55 CEST/21:55 BST on ESA Web TV
- Liftoff scheduled for 23:26 CEST/22:26 BST/21:26 UTC/18:26 Kourou
Flight VA261 will carry to space two payloads – the German space agency DLR’s experimental communications satellite Heinrich Hertz and the French communications satellite Syracuse 4b.
The flight will be the 117th mission for Ariane 5, a series which began in 1996. Notable Ariane 5 payloads have included ESA’s comet-chasing Rosetta, a dozen of Europe’s Galileo navigation satellites – orbited with just three launches – and the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope. Ariane 5’s next-to-last launch sent ESA’s Juice mission to Jupiter.
This heavy launcher more than doubled the mass-to-orbit capacity of its predecessor, Ariane 4, which flew from 1988 until 2003 as a favourite of the telecommunications industry with its need to put large payloads into very high geosynchronous orbits. Ariane 5’s capacity enables it to orbit two large telecommunications satellites on a single launch, or to push large and heavy payloads into deep space.