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Ariane 5 launch aborted in final seconds
Posted: Fri, Nov 29, 2002, 10:34 AM ET (1534 GMT)
Ariane 5 ESC-A (Arianespace) The inaugural launch of an upgraded version of the Ariane 5 launch vehicle was aborted just seconds before liftoff Thursday. The Ariane 5 ESC-A was scheduled to lift off Thursday evening, but the countdown was stopped less than five seconds before liftoff. At the time, officials said that launch pad arms that feed liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen into the vehicle’s new upper stage failed to retract as planned. However, at a press conference Friday morning, Arianespace officials said that the arms retracted as planned, but that software failed to recognize that pre-ignition flares designed to burn off excess hydrogen had gone off on schedule. Because the software did not register the flares, the countdown was aborted before the main engine could ignite. A new launch date is not expected to be announced until early next week. The Ariane 5 ESC-A uses a new upper stage that allows it to put up to 10 tonnes into geosynchronous transfer orbit, four tonnes more than the original Ariane 5. This vehicle is carrying the Hot Bird 7 communications satellite for Eutelsat and the Stentor experimental communications satellite for the French space agency CNES.
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