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The End Of An Era: Arianespace Sets Date For Final Ariane 5

As the countdown begins for the final launch of the Ariane 5 rocket, the space industry prepares to bid farewell to one of the most reliable workhorse rockets in recent history.

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Jay Keegan

Jay Keegan

Mon May 15 2023Written by Jay Keegan

As the countdown begins for the final launch of the Ariane 5 rocket, the space industry prepares to bid farewell to one of the most reliable workhorse rockets in recent history. Scheduled for June 16th, the mission, known as VA261, marks the 117th flight of the iconic Ariane 5 and serves as a poignant milestone in the history of European space exploration.

VA261 carries two significant payloads into space, reflecting the rocket's versatility and commitment to meeting diverse mission requirements. One of the payloads is the Syracuse 4B satellite, developed to provide advanced military communications capabilities for the French armed forces. Designed to replace the aging Syracuse 3A and 3B satellites, Syracuse 4B, constructed by Thales Alenia Space, offers enhanced performance and state-of-the-art anti-jamming capabilities, ensuring reliable and secure communications for military operations.

Accompanying Syracuse 4B on its journey is the Heinrich Hertz satellite, also known as H2Sat. Developed by OHB System on behalf of the German Aerospace Center (DLR), Heinrich Hertz aims to explore and test new communication technologies in space. The satellite will verify hardware and software, conduct scientific experiments, and pave the way for high data rate broadband communications, benefitting mobile users.

VA261 represents the culmination of years of advancements in rocket technology and launch operations. With an impeccable track record spanning over two decades, the Ariane 5 rocket has earned a reputation for its reliability and contribution to space exploration. Its 117th flight symbolizes the tremendous achievements made possible by this remarkable vehicle.

While VA261 marks the end of an era for the Ariane 5, attention now shifts to its successor, the long-awaited Ariane 6, which is poised to continue Europe's legacy of excellence in space launches.

As the final countdown commences for VA261, the space community and enthusiasts worldwide reflect on the immense contributions of the Ariane 5 rocket. From launching critical satellites and facilitating scientific research to enabling advancements in telecommunications, the Ariane 5 has played a pivotal role in shaping our understanding of the universe and expanding human capabilities in space.

While bidding farewell to the Ariane 5 may evoke a sense of nostalgia, it also heralds a new era of innovation and exploration. The European space industry remains committed to pushing the boundaries of scientific discovery, technological advancements, and international collaboration.

As VA261 marks the last flight of the Ariane 5 rocket, it represents a moment of celebration, gratitude, and anticipation for the future of European space endeavors. The legacy of the Ariane 5 will endure as Europe continues to pioneer groundbreaking missions, unlock the mysteries of the cosmos, and inspire generations to reach for the stars.


Watch Live!

Tune into our live coverage on June 16th as we take you through the final countdown of this historic final flight of Ariane 5:

You can find our YouTube broadcast here.