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Arianespace Eyes Quick Recovery From Anomaly

By | January 6, 2003

      France-based Arianespace S.A. will need a bit more time before it can shake off the Dec. 11 launch failure of an Ariane 5 that occurred during the first mission of its heavy- lift, 10-ton model.

      Arianespace CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall said the next scheduled launch of the Ariane 5 would use the basic version of the rocket to lift the Rosetta scientific satellite rather than the 10-ton derivation that incurred the anomaly. However, any risk of a hardware problem on the Ariane 5 needed to be ruled out before the next attempt previously scheduled for Jan. 12, he added.

      The company delayed its scheduled launch of the Rosetta satellite for at least a few days until the inquiry board named to investigate the anomaly during the failed mission on Dec. 11 can offer its report Jan. 6.

      The inquiry board named by Arianespace, the European Space Agency and France’s CNES space agency to investigate the mishap during Flight 157 on Dec. 11 will examine the potential impact on preparations for the upcoming mission with Rosetta.

      A minimal delay in the launch of the Rosetta satellite is important because the spacecraft is intended to land on a comet that will not pass close enough to the Earth again for another 170 years (SN, Dec, 16).

      Until the inquiry board’s final report is submitted Jan. 6, the irreversible operations linked to Rosetta’s launch have been suspended, company officials explained. A new launch date is expected by Saturday, Jan. 11.

      “A number of our competitors have also had difficulties over the last year,” Le Gall said in an interview after last month’s ill-fated launch attempt of the 10-ton Ariane 5. “Two weeks before our problem, Proton had a problem. Some other competitors have also had problems.”

      Arianespace is working “very hard” to return the Ariane 5 to flight as soon as possible, Le Gall said.

      In related news, Arianespace started 2003 by forming an executive committee and a management committee. The executive committee consists of Le Gall, General Secretary and Senior Vice-President – Finances Francoise Bouzitat, Senior Vice-President – Sales & Marketing Philippe Berterottiere, and Senior Vice President – Programs Patrick Bonguet.

      The executive committee members also belong to the management committee that further includes: Edouard Perez, senior vice-president – engineering, Jean-Marcel Agasse, vice- president – operations, Louis Laurent, vice-president – launch vehicles developments, Jean-Max Puech, vice-president – finances, and Claude Le Moigne, vice-president – purchasing. In addition, Claire Coulbeaux has been named Arianespace’s vice-president – corporate communication.

      –Paul Dykewicz and Mark Holmes

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