In France, the first 'Ariane' satellite launcher began its long journey to French Guiana on Tuesday (20 June), for the start of a series of tests.
In France, the first 'Ariane' satellite launcher began its long journey to French Guiana on Tuesday (20 June), for the start of a series of tests. It was regarded as an important step on the road to setting up a European network of telecommunications satellites.
SYNOPSIS: The three rocket stages, in their pressurised containers, were first taken to Port des Mureaux, near Paris. From there, they took a barge trip to Le Havre and then started across the Atlantic to Cayenne in French Guiana. In August, the 154 foot (47 metre), rocket will be assembled on its firing pad to begin a three-month testing programme at France's Space Centre at Kourou.
Western Europe is hoping to become less dependent on the United States for space technology. Four experimental boosters, based on the 'Ariane' design, have been built for flight testing over the next two years and research and development is costing European Space Agency members more than 357-million Pounds (650-million Dollars). France is paying more than 60 per cent of the bill.
Each 'Ariane' rocket will cost about 13,700,000 Pounds (25-million Dollars) and the Europeans say this is about 10 to 15 per cent cheaper than equivalent American rockets. 'Ariane' will use liquid fuels and be capable of carrying a payload the same size as the biggest American telecommunications satellites.
The satellites 'Ariane' carries will handle telephone, telegraph and telex traffic as well as relaying television programmes world-wide. It is expected that test firings will begin next year.