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Independent Panel To Investigate Ariane 5 Software Glitch

Ariane 5
by Staff Writers
Kourou, French Guiana (SPX) Jun 06, 2008
A software programming glitch discovered during final checks of last Friday's planned Ariane 5 ECA mission is under review by an independent group of experts, and will be fully solved before the dual-payload flight is rescheduled.

The Ariane 5's flight software is regularly updated to incorporate data from recent launches, and a routine pre-liftoff validation before the planned May 30 mission pinpointed an erroneous software element that would be used only in the event of an in-flight failure.

"Our policy is to fully understand the reason for such a situation. The utilization of this group of experts allows for a thorough, independent review that not only will determine what happened, but also will ensure that such conditions do not occur again," explained Arianespace Chairman and CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall.

"We rapidly informed our customers of the situation, and will keep them fully advised - which is in line with our policy of transparency."

Le Gall said the Ariane 5 ECA's flight software program had been modified after the successful March 9 launch of an Ariane 5 ES version, which orbited Europe's Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) re-supply spacecraft for the International Space Station.

This mission was followed by another on-target flight on April 18 with an Ariane 5 ECA, which carried a dual-satellite telecommunications payload. The programming glitch is thought to have occurred during software updates made after the ATV flight.

Le Gall chaired the first meeting of the group of experts on June 2, which is expected to complete its work late this week.

A new date for the upcoming Ariane 5 ECA flight will then be established - with June 12 as the earliest current target.

This flight is the third of seven Ariane 5 missions planned for 2008, and will loft the Skynet 5C and Turksat 3A satellites.

At Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana, the Ariane 5 ECA has returned from the launch pad to the Final Assembly Building, where the launcher and its payloads remain in a safe standby mode.

Arianespace continues to maintain its seven-mission goal for 2008, supported by the Spaceport's flexibility - which enables two Ariane 5s to be prepared in parallel.

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Two Ariane 5s Are Readied For Launches In May And June
Kourou, French Guiana (SPX) May 29, 2008
Arianespace is keeping up the mission pace for its workhorse Ariane 5, with the upcoming flight cleared for liftoff this Friday, and another being prepared for next month.

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