Blasting Off to Jupiter’s Moons: Ariane 5 Sends JUICE on a Chilling Expedition

Ariane 5 Launches Juice Space Probe for ESA

The 116th Ariane 5 launch, operated by Arianespace, successfully placed the ESA’s JUICE space probe into an escape orbit, marking Europe’s first mission to Jupiter. The probe, built by Airbus Defence and Space, will spend at least three years observing Jupiter’s icy moons, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto, in search of potential habitats for life and insights into the solar system’s workings. Credit: Arianespace

Arianespace’s Ariane 5 successfully launched the JUICE space probe, initiating Europe’s first mission to Jupiter’s icy moons to explore potential life and solar system dynamics.

  • The 116th Ariane 5 launch, operated by Arianespace, successfully placed the JUICE space probe in an escape orbit.
  • Europe’s Ariane 5 heavy-lift launcher, for which ArianeGroup is the lead contractor, once again demonstrated its exceptional reliability.
  • This will be Europe’s first mission to the Jovian system. Its passenger, JUICE, will spend at least three years observing Jupiter’s icy moons, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto.

On Friday, April 14, 2023, at 09:14 am local time, an Ariane 5 launcher, operated by Arianespace, successfully lifted off from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, carrying the European Space Agency (ESA) JUICE space probe.

The spacecraft, built by Airbus Defence and Space for ESA, will carry out Europe’s first mission to Jupiter. It will spend at least three years making detailed observations of the planet’s icy moons: Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto, which will arrive in July 2031. JUICE will study the moons as potential habitats for life, addressing two key questions: what are the conditions for planet formation and the emergence of life, and how does the solar system work?

ESA’s latest interplanetary mission, Juice, lifted off on an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, at 14:14 CEST on April 14, 2023, to begin its eight-year journey to Jupiter, where it will study in detail the gas giant planet’s three large ocean-bearing moons: Ganymede, Callisto and Europa. Flight VA260 is the final Ariane 5 flight to carry an ESA mission to space. Credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace

Stéphane Israël, CEO of Arianespace, said: “Arianespace is honored to have been entrusted with this launch, the first European mission to Jupiter, and to play a part in expanding our understanding of the solar system and the necessary conditions for the emergence of life. In preparing for this mission, we have worked hand in hand with ESA, Airbus Defence and Space, ArianeGroup, and French space agency CNES. I take this opportunity to thank all the teams who have given so much for 10 years to bring us to today’s successful result. And good luck to JUICE for the incredible journey it is about to embark on!”

“With the successful launch of the JUICE space probe, Ariane 5 has once again made its contribution to European space history. This exceptional mission benefited twice over from ArianeGroup’s expertise: we not only built and prepared Ariane 5 for this mission, but we are also involved in the JUICE spacecraft as we developed, supplied, and tested the entire propulsion system which will enable the probe to make its eight-year journey to Jupiter. I want to thank the teams from ArianeGroup and Arianespace, together with all our European partners, for this latest success of the Ariane launcher. Our launcher’s high reliability is due to the unfailing cooperation between the industry, ESA, and CNES, the guarantee of Europe’s independent access to space,” said Martin Sion, CEO of ArianeGroup.

Just 28 minutes after liftoff, the Ariane 5 will release Juice into space. But the spacecraft will not be left to fend for itself – five minutes later ESA mission controllers will start receiving signals via ground stations and assume control of the spacecraft. Credit: ESA / ATG medialab

The propulsion system for the JUICE spacecraft was developed, built, and integrated in Germany by ArianeGroup’s Orbital Propulsion teams, and comprises the 400 N main engine to be used for Jupiter orbit injection, 20 small thrusters, and two titanium propellant tanks.

After this mission, one Ariane 5 launch remains before Ariane 6 takes up the baton, supporting Europe’s institutional missions and meeting the rapidly growing needs of the commercial market.

The Ariane 5 heavy-lift launcher is an ESA program carried out in cooperation between public institutions and industry across 12 European partner countries.

ArianeGroup is the lead contractor for the development and production of Ariane 5, as well as being responsible for launcher preparation operations up to lift-off. As prime contractor for Ariane 5 and Ariane 6, in charge of development and production, ArianeGroup is at the head of a vast industrial network of more than 600 companies, including 350 small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs). ArianeGroup delivers a flight-ready launcher on the launch pad to its subsidiary Arianespace, which markets and operates Ariane 5 from Europe’s spaceport in French Guiana. During launch campaigns, Arianespace works closely with the French space agency (CNES), the design authority for Ariane 5 and responsible for the satellite preparation facilities and the launch base.

The Launch at a Glance:

346th launch operated by Arianespace

More than 1150 satellites launched by Arianespace

1st launch operated by Arianespace in 2023

This launch was carried out on April 14, 2023 from the European Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana at 09:14 am local time (12:14 pm UTC)

116th Ariane 5 launch fro mthe CSG

6058kg is the total payload carried by the launched for this mission

90th consecutive launch with nominal operation of the Vulcain 2 main stage engine

116th consecutive launch with nominal operation of the solid boosters

156tth consecutive launch with nominal operation of the HM7B upper stage engine

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