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Ariane 5 is ready to take off, and only the weather can still interfere

Ariane 5 is ready to take off, and only the weather can still interfere

The countdown has begun. Ariane 5 rocket, It should run on Saturday In space The Telescope Spatial James Web, Waited at his shooting point on Friday for the start of the final count, which could only be interrupted by a capricious weather. If all goes well the European launcher should start at 9.20am on Saturday (1.20pm Paris time).

In the middle of a vast expanse surrounded by barbed wire and guinea fowl, the white rocket is set on its launch pad, a large mobile steel structure, crowned by four massive lightning towers. So far, only rain and wind have played a trick on the machine, forcing it to postpone the date.

A nearby dumping water tower is expected to deliver a “flood” of 30 tonnes of water per second, which, when ignited, will be triggered under the scheduled engines at 9.20am. Mitigate temperatures up to 3,000 degrees Celsius, especially to reduce the shock of the take-off sound wave, which can damage electrical components on board. At about 180 decibels, this is the loudest noise a man-made machine can make.

210 tons of hydrogen and liquid oxygen

Two elongated silver tubes connect the top of the table mast to the Ariane 5 fairing containing the telescope. They guarantee air conditioning of cold and dry air and protect from ambient air, heat and humidity. Minimum for the most sophisticated surveillance machine sent into space.

Just below, two bright yellow arms with upstairs fuel supply lines, fed directly from the downstairs desk. Still empty, the rocket’s tanks will hold a total of 210 tons of hydrogen and liquid oxygen. These impulses are wisely waiting in tanks placed at good distances. This is because of their combination, which is highly flammable, allowing it to leave.

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Jean-Marc Durand, deputy director of Arianespace Guyane, explains. The rocket will have all the controls alone, including refueling coming from the missile center at a distance of 2.3 km. From the bunker area of ​​this building, – which was closed 45 minutes before departure – the site manager and his crew will issue their commands to the launcher, such as filling the tanks and receiving all the parameters.

By Friday afternoon, the rows of desk-clad desks in the center were still empty, “said Jerome Rives, director of the Ariane 5 program at ArianeSpace. Scratched even overnight from Friday to Saturday.

Automatic departure

A countdown was launched from the control center on Thursday, which was supposed to start at 9:57 p.m. In this large “jar”, the operational department “allows all the information to be integrated,” explains Jean-Luc Mestre, deputy director of operations.

If the red does not come from those in charge of the telescope, space base, launcher or weather forecast, the operating director H will start the synchronized queue in minus seven minutes. At that time all operations will switch to automatic mode, controlled by the control center and rocket systems.

The Ariane 5 Vulcain engine will start at H, but only after seven seconds will the two powered engines ignite, allowing the rocket to tear off the ground. This beautiful ballet is only possible if you play the weather game, under a cloudy and windy sky.

At 1:00 a.m. Friday, the forecast center showed a green light. He will inflate several more weather balloons into the air to refine his predictions by Evelyn, including less than the last three hours. At the center on Thursday, a manager saw this attention in the sky as a good sign: “If we talk about the weather, everything has been fine so far, because this is the last thing to look for before launching.”

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