Ariane 5 is preparing to retire

On June 22, an Ariane 5 rocket was launched from the Kourou cosmodrome in French Guiana. It successfully launched a pair of telecommunications satellites MEASAT-3d and GSAT-24 into geotransfer orbit. 

Ariane 5 rocket launch. Source: ESA-CNES-Arianespace/Optique Video du CSG/JM Guillon

The total weight of the two devices (including the adapter) was 10,863 kg. This is only 2 kg less than the mass of the ViaSat-2 and Eutelsat 172B satellite bundles launched in 2017. They are the heaviest cargo sent by Ariane 5 into geotransfer orbit in its 26-year history.

But the 113-year mission of the European carrier was marked not only by almost record numbers, but also by the fact that it marked the beginning of its retirement. To date, Ariane 5 has only four planned missions left, after which it will be replaced by a new Ariane 6 rocket.

Three of the remaining four Ariane 5 launches are typical geostationary launch withdrawal missions. The final flight, scheduled for April 2023, will be much more interesting. Within its framework, Ariane 5 will send a JUICE probe to Jupiter, which will have to study its icy moons, under the surface of which oceans are hidden. It is possible that they may be a home for some kind of life. Thus, this mission will become a well-deserved swan song for the retiring rocket.

Ariane 5 rocket launch. Source: ESA-CNES-Arianespace/Optique Video du CSG/JM Guillo

It is worth noting that after the commissioning of Ariane 5, the Arianespace launch operator continued to launch its predecessor Ariane 4 for several more years. However, this time there will be practically no break between the new and the old rocket — which is largely due to delays in the commissioning of the Ariane 6. Thus, the success of its debut, without exaggeration, is of great importance for the future of Arianspace. At the moment, the first launch of Ariane 6 is scheduled for early 2023.

According to

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