Spaceflight Insider

Ariane 5 aborts moments after engine ignition

The Ariane 5 rocket remains on the launch pad seconds after a rare post-engine ignition abort. Photo Credit: Arianespace

An Ariane 5 rocket remains on the launch pad seconds after a rare post-engine ignition abort. Photo Credit: Arianespace

It was an otherwise smooth countdown. An Arianespace Ariane 5 rocket was poised to launch two communications satellites into orbit, but moments after the ignition of the vehicle’s main engine, the onboard computer triggered an abort. Liftoff was planned for 5:51 p.m. EDT (21:51 GMT) Sept. 5, 2017, at the Guiana Space Centre in South America.

The rare abort occurred between Vulcain 2 engine ignition at T-minus zero and the planned ignition of the twin solid rocket boosters seven seconds later. Later, launch controllers indicated that the rocket and satellites were safe and that there would not be another attempt in the 33-minute launch window.

“We had an aborted launch,” said. Luce Fabreguettes, Arianespace’s executive vice president of missions, operations, and purchasing. “Everything is fine. The launcher, the satellites are OK.”

Fabreguettes said Arianespace would be analyzing the problem to be able to launch again as soon as possible.

“I would, of course, like to apologize to our customers for this delay,” Fabreguettes said. “Thank you to B-SAT and SSL. Thank you to Intelsat and Boeing for their understanding. We will return to flight very soon, and we will be launching again as soon as possible.”

Mission managers have not indicated the exact cause of the abort or when they will try to launch again, only stating a new liftoff date would be decided after an investigation takes place.

When it does get off the ground, the mission, dubbed VA239, will launch the Intelsat 37e and BSAT-4a satellites into a geostationary transfer orbit with a low point of 155 miles (250 kilometers) and a high point of 22,187 miles (35,706 kilometers) with an inclination of six degrees.

Video courtesy of SciNews




Derek Richardson has a degree in mass media, with an emphasis in contemporary journalism, from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. While at Washburn, he was the managing editor of the student run newspaper, the Washburn Review. He also has a website about human spaceflight called Orbital Velocity. You can find him on twitter @TheSpaceWriter.

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