The Ariane 5 rocket successfully took off for its last flight

It was the 117th and final flight of the rocket, which sends a French and a German satellite into orbit.



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The European Ariane 5 rocket takes off from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana, on July 5, 2023. (JODY AMIET / AFP)

The third was the good one. After two postponements, the Ariane rocket finally took off on Wednesday July 5 at 7 p.m. (midnight in Paris) from Kourou, in French Guiana. The French military communications satellite (Syracuse 4B) and the German experimental satellite separated from the launcher after about thirty minutes to be placed in orbit.

After 27 years of service, thehe final firing of rocket 5 went off without a hitch under the eyes of hundreds of spectators gathered on site, including local officials and the former Minister of Justice Christiane Taubira. Some employees let their joy burst after takeoff, while applause greeted the second separation.

Ariane 6 expected at best by the end of 2023

Putting the French satellite into orbit “marks a major turning point for our armies: better performance and better resistance to jamming”welcomed on Twitter the Minister of the Armed Forces, Sébastien Lecornu.

It was the 117th flight for the rocket, which had a rocky start: it exploded just after liftoff on its maiden flight in 1996. The rest of the story is a chain of successes, Ariane 5 forging a reputation for reliability such that NASA even entrusts it with its emblematic James Webb telescope, worth ten billion dollars.

This Ariane 5 farewell flight will be followed by long months of emptiness while waiting for the future Ariane 6 – at the end of 2023 at best – whose deployment is suffering from cumulative delays. More powerful and more competitive with costs halved compared to Ariane 5, Ariane 6 was designed to withstand Elon Musk’s American company SpaceX, which carries out more than one launch per week.

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