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Arianespace Sends Ariane 5 Rocket Back to Hangar for Sensor Replacement

By | August 3, 2020

Arianespace’s VA253 Ariane 5 on the launchpad. (Photo by Arianespace)

Arianespace will have to wait a little longer for its post-COVID-19 comeback. The French launch company was forced to scrub its Ariane 5 VA253 mission on Friday after detecting a sensor malfunction on the rocket’s first stage liquid hydrogen tank just two minutes before liftoff.

The Ariane 5 rocket will be transferred back to its assembly facility with its trio of passenger spacecraft still aboard. “A spare sensor will be set up and a new flight program will be uploaded to the launcher,” Arianespace officials said. “These additional operations, and those that follow, will take several days. In the meantime, the Ariane 5 launch vehicle and its three spacecraft payloads are in stable and safe conditions.”

The rocket carries Intelsat’s Galaxy 30 (G-30), the Northrop Grumman-built Mission Extension Vehicle-2 (MEV-2), and BSAT’s BSAT-4b satellite. For this flight, Arianespace increased Ariane 5’s payload capacity by 85 kg with the introduction of a  new Vehicle Equipment Bay (VEB). This brought total payload capacity to 10,200 kg.

G-30, also built by Northrop Grumman, will provide UHD video distribution/broadcast and broadband services to North America, along with broadband and networks services. It is the first refresh in Intelsat’s Galaxy fleet, and the operator’s first four-spectrum satellite, featuring C-, Ku-, Ka- and L-band capabilities. It will replace Galaxy 14 and enter service in early 2021