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Ariane 5 Launch Of Rosetta Satellite Remains In Limbo

By | January 8, 2003

      In the aftermath of the Dec. 11 Ariane 5 launch failure, Arianespace has set up a panel to decide by Jan. 14 whether to proceed with the next Ariane 5 launch, which would send the Rosetta scientific satellite into space. That mission must be launched by month’s end for the satellite to rendezvous with Comet Wirtanen.

      An inquiry board set up to examine the cause of last month’s Ariane 5 launch failure issued its report on Monday. The board concluded that the problems were caused by a piece of hardware specific to the Ariane 5 10-ton rocket and not found on the basic Ariane 5 model that would launch the Rosetta satellite. The Arianespace-led inquiry board said the anomaly was caused by a leak in the Vulcain 2 engine nozzle’s cooling circuit, followed by a critical overheating of the nozzle. The baseline Ariane 5 uses a Vulcain 1 engine that has not shown any weaknesses in the functioning and resistance of its nozzle.

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