Arianespace Sets June 16 Date for Final Ariane 5 Mission
Arianespace has set a target date of June 16 for the final Ariane 5 mission, retiring Europe’s workhorse heavy-lift rocket.
The mission will launch two satellites — Syracuse 4B, built by Airbus Defence and Space for the French government’s defense procurement and technology agency DGA, and the Heinrich-Hertz-Mission, built by OHB for the German space agency DLR.
It will be a historic milestone as the final Ariane 5 mission. The rocket which has launched a total of 116 times, most recently Europe’s Juice space probe on a mission to Jupiter.
The Syracuse 4B satellite on the mission will provide secure communications for the French Armed Forces. 4B and its sister satellite 4A — launched in 2021 — will replace the operational Syracuse 3A and Syracuse 3B satellites currently in orbit.
Germany’s Heinrich-Hertz-Mission will test new technologies for satellite communication, including on-board processing.
Ariane 5 has had a pristine launch record over the past 20 years. The rocket had full and partial failures in its first two missions in 1996 and 1997, but its last full failure was in 2002.
Europe faces a gap in heavy-lift launch capacity as the Ariane 5 will be retired before the Ariane 6 is ready to fly. The European Space Agency (ESA) and Arianespace have said that Ariane 6 will make its debut by the end of 2023, but a new update from a task force on the vehicle’s progress makes that deadline look unlikely. A task force report released Friday said vehicle assembly is not expected to start until November 2023.