Supplying cryogenic fluids for launch vehicles just before takeoff
Distributing liquid propellants to heights of several dozen meters and loading the launch vehicle up to five seconds prior to launch: that's what the dedicated cryogenic lines, built and installed by Air Liquide, can do on Ariane 5's launch pad tower in Kourou.
Over the years, we have designed, produced, and installed the cryogenic equipment for all four launch tables on the Kourou base. The Ariane ELA2 launch complex, for example, had no less than six tanks, with capacities ranging from 20 to 100 m3, related equipment and 1,100 meters of vacuum-insulated lines, including 650 m for transferring liquid hydrogen. For ELA3, Air Liquide supplied 630 meters of lines and nine tanks, including five 360 m3 tanks intended for storing hydrogen three kilometers from the launch pad! ELA4, meanwhile, is still in the design phase, and is due to be operational as of 2020. Intended to launch the future Ariane 6 launch vehicle, it will be similar to the ELA3.
And that's not all: Air Liquide's on-site teams are responsible for the full maintenance of cryogenic equipment, in particular the super-insulated vacuum lines, which we produced, as well as the reconditioning of all tubes that connect the launch vehicle to the launch tower.
Did you know? Filling the tanks with liquid propellants is one of the last operations prior to a launch