Ariane 5 launch countdown interrupted
March 31, 2011
The launch countdown for the Ariane 5 mission with the Yahsat Y1A and Intelsat New Dawn satellites was interrupted prior to lift-off when an anomaly detected during the automated checkout procedure stopped the sequence before ignition of the solid boosters.
The synchronised countdown was conducted as planned, including the start-up of Ariane 5’s cryogenic main engine. Following the normal procedures for an Ariane 5 launch, this cryogenic engine’s operation is fully validated during a period of seven seconds before an ignition command is given to the two solid boosters – which commits the vehicle to lift-off.
Arianespace Chairman and CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall said the cryogenic main engine’s checkout process was not completed successfully because of an anomaly detected on the launcher, preventing the boosters’ ignition and thereby averting the launch. The Ariane 5 and its two payloads were then switched to a safe mode on the launch pad.
Le Gall stated that while data analysis is underway to determine the anomaly’s source, the Ariane 5 would be rolled back to the Spaceport’s Final Assembly Building, where it is to be returned to a flight-ready condition. “We do not take any risks, and therefore it is very important we determine the causes,” he added.
Arianespace will set a new launch date as soon as possible.