Arianespace’s upcoming Ariane 5 ECA heavy-lift mission moved one step closer to liftoff with a full dress rehearsal, which was held at the Spaceport in French Guiana on March 6th.
The rehearsal, which is part of pre-launch preparations for every Ariane flight, brought all key mission elements into play for a simulated countdown. Participating in the exercise was the complete launch team – including Arianespace mission personnel, technicians for the dual-satellite payload of SPAINSAT and HOT BIRD 7A, and the Spaceport’s launch infrastructure team – lead by the Range Operations director (DDO), and involving meteorologists, operators at the downrange network of tracking stations, etc.
The countdown was started 6 hours prior to the simulated liftoff, and continued through the steps leading to deployment of SPAINSAT and HOT BIRD 7A into geostationary transfer orbit.
TV coverage of the March 9th launch can be found here:
Satellite: HOT BIRD™ 1 @ 13° EST
Network ID: 318
Transport stream ID 500
Name: Business Tv
S/R 27.500 Msymb
Service ID 8404
Pmt Pid 212
Pid Video 340
Pid Audio 1 341
Pid Audio 2 342
The launch is scheduled as soon as possible within the following launch window:
7:06 p.m. – 8:13 p.m., Kourou, French Guiana
5:06 p.m. – 6:13 p.m., Washington , D.C.
22:06 – 23:13 GMT
23:06 – 00:13, Paris and Madrid.
The exercise enabled all participants to have a hands-on experience with the end-to-end launch procedure, including the mission’s two customers and their satellite manufacturers – who monitored the status of their payloads, both from the equipment installed on-site at the Spaceport and at their home satellite control master stations. Simulated launcher data using tapes from a previous mission was broadcast through the network, providing realistic conditions for participants at the Spaceport and the downrange tracking stations at Natal, Ascension, Libreville and Malindi.
Weather balloons were deployed from the launch facility to measure the temperature and winds at various altitudes above the Spaceport.
In total, as many as 200 persons in French Guiana, Africa, Europe and the United States participated in the dress rehearsal.
Good luck, and let’s hope it’s third time lucky!