Europe’s high power Ariane 5 rocket made its final trip into space for the year 2010 in a dramatic liftoff from the European space port in French Guiana, South America. The launch into space was to place a video and data satellite into orbit that would service Europe and North America as well as a telecommunications satellite that will service South Korea.
An impressive record
The Ariane rocket is a remarkable success story, having an excellent safety record and forty one consecutive successful launches under its belt. During that stellar year, Ariane launched 12 of the 20 telecommunications satellites launched during the year, showing that it is now the world’s premier space agency.
As the United States takes its aging space shuttle fleet offline, Ariane may see even more payloads and a higher percentage of global space traffic in coming years. Even now, 60% of the world’s market is a piece of the pie that’s worth bragging about.
Historically, the Ariane series of space boosters has now been launched nearly 200 times over the past three decades. The latest version, the Ariane 5 has now flown 55 times.
According to Arianespace, the operating agent for the Ariane 5, one of the first missions in 2011 is expected to be a resupply mission for the International Space Station. The space outpost is already running on a lean schedule because of mission delays for NASA’s shuttle Discovery which has been waylaid by cracks in its fuel system.
Europe has a cargo ship that is designed to be carried by the Ariane 5 rocket that will blast to the space station using its own built-in engines. The space ship is expected to deliver tons of food and fuel to the station, possibly in advance of the pending NASA mission. The freighter is also expected to restock the space station with air when it docks in mid-February.
More about the payloads
The South Korean satellite traveling aboard the last Ariane 5 flight of 2010, Koreasat 6 is to be operated by KT, a Seoul-based telecom company that expects to keep it in service for fifteen years.
A second satellite, Hispasat 1E, will beam television signals direct to homes from a geostationary orbit. The satellite will join two others from its product family that were launched earlier from the American space port at Cape Canaveral. Owned by a Madrid, Spain corporation, the Hispasat project provides data and video services across the Atlantic and Europe.