Europe’s workhorse Ariane 5 rocket blasted off for the last time on Wednesday, ending a 27-year programme by sending two military communications satellites into orbit.
The 53-metre three-stage launcher blasted off from the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana on its 117th mission.
The programme has deployed 239 satellites since the first launch in 1996. Ariane 5 would be “taking its place in the annals of global space history”, said Stéphane Israël, chief executive of Arianespace.
“This final successful mission demonstrates once again its supreme reliability in the service of European autonomy and rounds off an exceptional career,” he said.
The replacement Ariane 6 heavy-lift rocket is due for its first launch in the fourth quarter of 2023.
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