Sunday, July 21, 2024

Ariane 5: An extraordinary mission to launch the James Webb Telescope into space


The launch of the James-Webb telescope by Ariane 5 is scheduled for this Saturday from the Cayenne Space Center. Ariane 5 is waiting to take off, only the weather can be annoying.

Ariane 5 rocket, definitely To launch the James Webb Telescope into space on Saturday, Waited at his shooting point on Friday for the start of the final count, which could only be interrupted by a capricious weather.

This revolutionary instrument is the result of NASA-led international collaboration to give humanity a first-hand view of the new universe, just as it was when the first galaxies formed. At $ 9 billion, it is considered by NASA to be the first space laboratory of the next decade. It mainly observes the universe in the infrared spectrum. Its instruments are ideal for exploring sources of life-sustaining atmospheres around dozens of newly documented extraterrestrials – celestial objects orbiting distant stars – and observing worlds closest to us, such as Mars and Titan, Saturn’s frozen moon. In comparison, the web is 100 times more sensitive than its 30-year-old predecessor, the Hubble Space Telescope.

If all goes as planned, Webb will be released from Ariadne 5 after a 26-minute journey into space. Next month, the telescope will reach its target in solar orbit about 1 million kilometers from Earth, which is four times farther than the Moon. Webb’s special orbit keeps it in constant alignment with the Earth, while the planet and telescope orbit the Sun.

Meanwhile, in the middle of a vast expanse surrounded by barbed wire and guinea fowl, the white rocket was set on its launch pad, a large mobile steel structure, crowned with four massive lightning towers. So far, only rain and wind have played a trick on the machine, forcing it to postpone the date. A majestic water tower in the vicinity is to be supplied “Flood”, 30 tons of water per second, which is triggered under the engines when they are ignited, is scheduled for 9:20 a.m. local time. To dampen temperatures up to 3000 degrees, and especially to drown out the shock of the take-off sound wave, this can damage the electrical components on board. At about 180 decibels, this is the loudest noise a man-made machine can make.

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Two elongated silver tubes connect the top of the table mast to the Ariane 5 fairing containing the telescope. They guarantee air conditioning of cold and dry air and protect from ambient air, heat and humidity. Just below, two bright yellow arms with upstairs fuel supply lines, fed directly from the downstairs desk.


Still empty, the rocket’s tanks will hold a total of 210 tons of hydrogen and liquid oxygen. These impulses are wisely waiting in tanks placed at good distances. This is because of their combination, which is highly flammable, allowing it to leave. “When filling operations begin at H-7, no one will be on site anymore”, Explains Jean-Marc Durand, deputy director of Arianespace Guyane. The rocket will have all the controls alone, including refueling coming from the missile center at a distance of 2.3 km. From the bunker area of ​​this building, – which was closed 45 minutes before departure – the site manager and his crew will issue their commands to the launcher, such as filling the tanks and receiving all the parameters.

Weather green light

On Friday afternoon, rows of curtained desks in the center were still empty, “Because the queue starts late”, Mentions Jérôme Rives, director of the Ariane 5 project on Arianespace. Scratched even overnight from Friday to Saturday. A countdown was launched from the control center on Thursday, which was supposed to start at 9:57 p.m. This is great “Jar”, Department of Operations “Integrates all information and integrates launch”, Explains Jean-Luc Mestre, deputy director of operations. If the red does not come from those in charge of the telescope, space base, launcher or weather forecast, the operating director H will start the synchronized queue in minus seven minutes. At that time all operations will switch to automatic mode, controlled by the control center and rocket systems.

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The Ariane 5 Vulcain engine will start at H, but only after seven seconds will the two powered engines ignite, allowing the rocket to tear off the ground. This beautiful ballet is only possible if you play the weather game, under a cloudy and windy sky. At 1 a.m. Friday, the forecast center showed a green light. He will launch several more probe balloons into the air to refine his predictions by Evelyn, including less than the last three hours. At the center of Jupiter on Friday, an official saw this attention to heaven as a good sign: “If we’ve talking about the weather, so far everything has been well done, this is the last thing to look for before we start.”.