An Ariane 5 rocket fires away from the ELA-3 launch pad in Kourou, French Guiana, Thursday with the Eutelsat Connect and GSAT 30 communications satellites. Credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace – Photo Optique Video du CSG – JM Guillon
The first of up to 22 launches on Arianespace’s schedule in 2020 successfully delivered a commercial European broadband satellite and an Indian communications payload to orbit Thursday using heavy-lift Ariane 5 rocket.
The nearly 180-foot-tall (54.8-meter) rocket, propelled by two side-mounted solid-fueled boosters and a hydrogen-fueled core stage, fired away from the ELA-3 launch pad in Kourou, French Guiana, at 4:05 p.m. EST (2105 GMT; 6:05 p.m. French Guiana time) Thursday.
Arcing toward the east, the powerful Ariane 5 launcher surpassed the speed of sound in less than a minute as it darted through low clouds hanging over the tropical space base on the northeastern shore of South America.
The solid rocket boosters jettisoned less than two-and-a-half minutes into the flight, and the Ariane 5 released its Swiss-built nose shroud moments later once the launcher climbed above the thick, lower layers of the atmosphere.
The Ariane 5’s Vulcain 2 main engine shut down nearly nine minutes into the mission, and the first stage separated ...