Paris, 14 Feb 2005
At exactly 22:03 CET today Ariane Flight 164 lifted off from the Guiana Space Centre, Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, carrying Sloshsat FLEVO, an experimental mini-satellite to investigate the dynamics of fluids in weightlessness. Sloshsat FLEVO is designed to investigate fluid dynamics in microgravity conditions by monitoring the behaviour of 33.5 litres of de-ionised water, placed in a tank on board the small satellite.
The Sloshsat satellite was successfully ejected by ESA's spring-loaded ESAJECT system during the transfer into geostationary orbit around 31 minutes after liftoff.
About 30 minutes after release, the satellite was successfully tracked by the ground station in Perth, Australia, and this confirmed that the satellite had achieved the right orbit and that it was receiving and transmitting correctly.
About 12 hours later, when Sloshsat passes over Kourou, tracked by ESA's Diane ground station, the satellite will begin transmitting data on the behaviour of the water in its tank. The total experiment time will be at least 24 hours spread over a maximum of 14 days and lasts until the gas supply of the reaction control system is exhausted.
Flight 164, the qualification flight of Europe's new heavy-lift launcher, the Ariane 5 ECA, was also carrying two other payloads on its journey into space: an XTAR-EUR telecommunications satellite correctly placed into geostationary transfer orbit, and the Maqsat B2, an instrumented platform for telemetry and video imaging, that remained mated to the launcher's upper stage as planned.
This satellite was jointly developed by ESA and the Dutch National Aerospace Laboratory (NLR). Sloshsat FLEVO is aptly named: 'slosh' for the movement of water, 'sat' for satellite and FLEVO, the project's acronym: Facility for Liquid Experimentation and Verification in Orbit.
Flevo is also the name of the latest province in the Netherlands to be reclaimed from the sea, and one of the sites of the NLR, the main contractor for this project.