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Ariane 5 ECA Heading for Launch (Feb. 11)

The new European launcher Ariane 5 ECA is to be launched from the European spaceport in Kourou, French Guyana. This new version is equipped with the Vulcain 2 main engine and with a new cryogenic upper stage, dubbed ESC-A.

This qualification flight V164 - under the responsibility of the European Space Agency (ESA) - will launch the Spanish satellite Xtar-EUR, the model Maqsat-2 and the micro satellite Sloshsat. Upon successful qualification, the A5 ECA launch vehicle will enter commercial operations thus becoming the workhorse for Arianespace. EADS Space Transportation will then have, as prime contractor, the responsibility of delivering in Kourou a fully integrated and controlled launcher.

Since the maiden flight V 157 of this launcher in December 2002, numerous improvements have been realized.

The report of the Inquiry Board identified the occurrence of a leak in the Vulcain 2 nozzle’s cooling circuit. It was in effect the exit cone - the downstream part of the nozzle that accelerates the gases produced by the engine - that caused the failure of the first flight of the Ariane 5 ECA launcher.

EADS SPACE Transportation and other European teams have been involved in the post flight inquiry allowing the application of the recommendations of the Inquiry Board, as the modification of the Vulcain 2 nozzle and the improvement of the general robustness of the flight equipment:

-- SNECMA Moteurs, as prime contractor for the Vulcain 2 engine, realized together with its partners EADS SPACE Transportation and Volvo Aero the redesign and qualification of the modifications of the Vulcain 2 nozzle exit cone. Several firing test series were realized and the results proved the effectiveness of these modifications (internal thermal barrier coating, increased cooling flowrate, and external mechanical stiffeners).

--In the mean time, EADS SPACE Transportation focussed its resources towards the finalisation of the generic qualification beyond flight 157 specialities. Using the flight data, important insights in the launcher behaviour during the atmospheric flight could be obtained and introduced in the qualification process especially to enhance the robustness of the new ESC-A upper stage. Additional tests were performed improving the margin situation on subsystems, stages and system level.

--Moreover, EADS SPACE Transportation completed an extensive cross-checking of the entire qualification obtained prior to flight 157 and contributed thereby substantially to improve the confidence in the Ariane 5 ECA launcher.

EADS SPACE Transportation is the European specialist for access to Space and manned space activities. It develops and produces Ariane launchers, the Columbus laboratory and the ATV cargo carrier for the International Space Station, atmospheric reentry vehicles, missiles systems for France's deterrent force, propulsion systems and space equipment.

EADS SPACE Transportation is a wholly owned subsidiary of EADS SPACE, which is dedicated to providing civil and defense space systems. In 2003, EADS SPACE had a turnover of 2.4 billion euros and 12,000 employees in France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Spain.

EADS is a global leader in aerospace, defense and related services. In 2003, EADS generated revenues of 30.1 billion euros and employed a workforce of more than 100,000.

Ariane 5 ECA Heading for Launch