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Europe’s Ariane 5 rocket to make its final launch this evening [Updated]

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The Ariane 5 has been a workhorse since 1996 for the European Space Agency.

Enlarge / The Ariane 5 has been a workhorse since 1996 for the European Space Agency. (credit: ESA/Arianespace)

Wednesday update: Unfavorable upper-level winds scrubbed a launch attempt of the European Space Agency's Ariane 5 rocket on Tuesday from the European spaceport in French Guiana.

However, Arianespace said Wednesday that the forecast for today is marginally better, and so the rocket is being prepared for liftoff at 5:30 pm ET (21:30 UTC). This will be the final launch for the Ariane 5 rocket, which flew for nearly as long as NASA's Space Shuttle. It will leave Europe without guaranteed access to space for at least the next year.

Original post: The Ariane 5 rocket has had a long run, with nearly three decades of service launching satellites and spacecraft. Over that time, the iconic rocket, with a liquid hydrogen-fueled core stage and solid rocket boosters, has come to symbolize Europe's guaranteed access to space.

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