Last night, the Ariane 5 vehicle stood tall and proud at the launch pad, equipped with two satellites – the Arabsat 5A multimedia communications satellite and South Korea’s COMS Earth Observation, communication testbed satellite. The previous night had seen the launch postponed due to technical difficulties without the countdown meeting the launch window. This time they were more confident.
A series of bars representing the various conditions the rocket has to satisfy to be launched from ArianeSpace, Europe’s spaceport, showed a couple of red bars to begin with, but nothing that was expected to stop the launch, just delay it. Partway into the launch window, the countdown began, dropping all the way to 16 seconds to launch before it froze again. Launch authorisation had been rescinded and within moments the explanation came through. A pressure loss in the cryogenics system had occurred.
Everything has been made safe and will be kept ready and waiting for the next launch opportunity, which will be announced once the technical issues have been sorted out.