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Rosetta's Rocket Almost Ready
Rosetta's Rocket Almost Ready
19 Dec 2002
(Source: European Space Agency)

Flight 158
Rosetta's Ariane 5 rolls out
December 19, 2002

The Ariane 5 for Flight 158 was transferred from the Spaceport's launcher integration building to the final assembly facility yesterday, marking a major milestone in this upcoming deep-space mission.

The Basic version of Arianespace's Ariane 5 heavy-lift launcher is partially complete, having undergone its initial build-up on a mobile launch table in the integration building.

The Ariane 5's central core stage was mated to the two solid rocket boosters, and its vehicle equipment bay - which contains the guidance, telemetry and control systems - was added atop the core stage. Ariane 5's EPS upper stage then was integrated on the vehicle.

During the transfer yesterday, Flight 158's Ariane 5 was moved on its launch table along the dual rail track connecting the various sites within the Spaceport's ELA-3 launch complex.

In the second photo, the Ariane 5 nears the final assembly facility (in the background), while the second Ariane 5 mobile launch table is visible in the foreground.

Flight 158 will carry the European Space Agency's Rosetta scientific spacecraft, which will be launched on a 10-year mission to intercept and study Comet Wirtanen.

A side view (third photo) clearly shows the Ariane 5/launch table combination as it approaches the final assembly facility, which is at left.

The dome-shaped cover on top of Ariane 5's core stage is temporary protection that subsequently will be removed, allowing the Rosetta satellite payload and its fairing to be installed.

In the bottom image, the Ariane 5 is rolled into the final assembly building for the last phase of mission preparations.

Flight 158 is targeted for a January 12 liftoff, which is the opening of a fixed 19-day launch window for the very specific trajectory that Rosetta will follow on its multi-year space voyage.

Final clearance for this launch of an Ariane 5 Basic version is pending a go-ahead from an inquiry board formed to investigate the anomaly on Flight 157, which used a "10-ton" Ariane 5 configuration.

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Last Updated: 27 Dec 2002