ESA Science News

06 Dec 1999

Ariane V124 leaves the way clear for XMM launch

Although French Guiana’s rainy season has officially arrived, there was not a cloud in sight on 3 December for the Ariane 40 which carried the
Helios-1B reconnaissance satellite into orbit. The successful V124 flight allows the XMM campaign to move forward as planned.

The daytime liftoff provided some unique views of the launcher in a clear blue sky. Tracking cameras were able to clearly follow the ascent and
even show the separation of the second and third stages! The flight was the 50th consecutive success for the Ariane 4 launcher since March 1995.
It was rightly celebrated in Jupiter Mission Control with a large cake with icing and chocolate mousse and 50 ‘rocket candles’ and sparklers.

Ariane 4 launch activity that day restricted operations on XMM to a minimum for safety reasons. But the purge of the inside of the spacecraft
(with nitrogen for the Optical Monitor and synthetic air for the telescope tube), and the battery charging equipment were checked, as every day,
in the launch table.

At the top of Ariane 504, the fairing is also permanently being flushed with a flow of fresh dry air (2000 cubic metre/hour at 16 C) in order to
maintain XMM at a constant 19 C temperature.

For detailed daily reports and more images see the XMM campaign diary.


* XMM launch diary

* Arianespace news


[Image 1:]

V124 liftoff

Ariane V124 lifts off from GSC.

[Image 2:]

Arine 504 launch table

Dornier’s Reinhold Rebholtz checking the XMM purge equipment system in the Ariane 504 launch table. Note the suspended equipment bays, with
reinforced springs to withstand the shocks at liftoff.

[Image 3:]

Post-fairing party

At the 2 December ESA party to celebrate the XMM ‘encapsulation’ under the fairing, XMM Project manager Robert Lainé in conversation with
Alcatel Bernard Deligny (left) and Guy Schang (right) from Alcatel Space, both involved in the Clementine micro-satellite also launched on
Ariane V124.