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Space Exploration

Ariane 5 rocket poised for Saturday take-off after fresh delay

This handout shows an Ariane 5 rocket blasting off from the Kourou Space Centre (Europe spaceport), in Kourou, French Guiana.
This handout shows an Ariane 5 rocket blasting off from the Kourou Space Centre (Europe spaceport), in Kourou, French Guiana. © AFP PHOTO / ESA-CNES-ARIANESPACE / JM GUILLON
2 min

The Ariane 5 rocket is expected to launch from the French Guiana space centre on Saturday after experiencing fresh delays due to strong winds. The European-built launcher was initially meant to fly into orbit in July.

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Saturday will be the fourth take-off attempt by the European-built launcher in two weeks.

The Ariane 5 rocket was initially scheduled to ride into orbit in July but a series of technical faults, including a suspect sensor on the vehicle's hydrogen tank prompted officials to cancel the attempts.

On Friday, ground crews were again forced to roll the 54.8-metre-tall rocket back to its launch pad after encountering unfavourable upper level winds.

Countdown begins

The new launch window will open Saturday at 6:33pm French Guiana time (21:33 GMT).

The launch will be the first by Arianespace since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic forced a cessation in launch preparations at the European-run spaceport in French Guiana in March.

The Ariane 5 rocket will carry three US-built satellites into geostationary transfer orbit, an elliptical transfer loop around Earth, on the way to final positions more than 36,000 kilometres above the equator.

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