Ariane 5 has two launches left before “retirement”

On December 13, an Ariane 5 rocket was launched from the Kourou cosmodrome in French Guiana. It has successfully placed three satellites with a total mass of 11 tons into geotransfer orbit.

Launch of the Ariane 5 rocket. Source: ESA-M.Pédoussaut

Two of the three Ariane 5 satellites launched were built by Maxar. They are telecommunication devices that will provide communication over North America. 

The third cargo of the mission was the MTG-I1 weather satellite. According to the ESA, it will open a new page in the history of weather forecasts. The device is equipped with instruments for multispectral shooting of Europe and Africa, as well as a device designed to map lightning flashes in order to track severe storms. The data collected by it will be transmitted to aircraft in order to help in bypassing thunderstorm fronts. MTG-I1 will also be used for accurate monitoring of forest fires.

The last launch of the Ariane 5 was notable not only for its payload, but also for the fact that it became the third-to-last in the history of the carrier. Now Arianspace has only the last two copies of the rocket at its disposal. One of them will be used for the launch of a French military satellite scheduled for February. The last Ariane 5 will send the JUICE interplanetary probe into space. This launch is scheduled for April 2023.

Ariane 5 will be replaced by the new Ariane 6 carrier, which has been developed by Arianespace by order of ESA since 2014. Initially, its debut was scheduled for 2020. It was assumed that Ariane 5 and Ariane 6 would be in operation in parallel for some time. However, due to various technical problems and the COVID-19 pandemic, the debut of the new rocket was postponed initially to 2022, and then to the end of 2023.

According to

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