In the last seconds of Ariane Flight VA201’s launch countdown as the Vulcain cryogenic main stage engine was being ignited, the checkout process detected an anomaly on the launcher, interrupting the final countdown.
The Ariane 5 launcher and payload immediately switched to a safe mode. Data analysis is underway to determine the cause of the anomaly, and in parallel, the launcher will be transferred to the Final Assembly Building – where it will be returned to a flight-ready condition.
The synchronized countdown was conducted as planned, including the startup of Ariane 5’s cryogenic main engine. Following the normal procedures for an Ariane 5 launch, this cryogenic engine’s operation is fully validated during a period of seven seconds before an ignition command is given to the two solid boosters – which commits the vehicle to liftoff.
Arianespace Chairman & CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall said the cryogenic main engine’s checkout process was not completed successfully because of an anomaly detected on the launcher, preventing the boosters’ ignition and thereby averting the launch. The Ariane 5 and its two payloads were then switched to a safe mode on the launch pad.
Le Gall stated that while data analysis is underway to determine the anomaly’s source, the Ariane 5 will be rolled back to the Spaceport’s Final Assembly Building, where it is to be returned to a flight-ready condition. “We do not take any risks, and therefore it is very important we determine the causes,” he added.
Arianespace will set a new launch date as soon as possible. Flight 201 will launch two communication satellites, Yahsat Y1A and Intelsat New Dawn.