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Ariane 5 launches Envisat
Posted: Fri, Mar 1, 2002, 7:14 AM ET (1214 GMT)
Ariane 5 launch on Flight 145 (ESA) The Ariane 5 booster returned to flight successfully Thursday night with the launch of ESA's Envisat earth sciences spacecraft. The booster lifted off from Kourou, French Guiana at 8:08 pm EST (0108 GMT Friday); it placed its payload, the Envisat spacecraft, into a sun-synchronous 800 km orbit 27 minutes after liftoff. Envisat, an 8,000-kg, $2-billion spacecraft, carries ten instruments that will provide comprehensive studies of the Earth's land, ocean, ice cover, and atmosphere. The Astrium-built spacecraft is the heaviest ever operated by ESA and launched by an Ariane. The launch was the first for the Ariane 5 since a July 2001 flight that put two spacecraft into lower-than-planned orbits. That failure was traced to problem with the Ariane's upper stage that has been corrected. The launch was critical not only because of the expensive ESA payload on board, but because Arianespace is in the process of phasing out the older Ariane 4 series in favor of the Ariane 5. The next Ariane launch, of two communications satellites on an Ariane 44L, is scheduled for the second half of March.
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