As they were on board an Air France flight between Cayenne in French Guiana and Paris, lucky passengers and flight crew members witnessed the launch of the Ariane 5 rocket from their windows on August 15, 2020.
The flight captain shared the unique and memorable scene on Twitter. The rocket can be seen rising through the clouds above the launch site of the Kourou European spaceport in French Guiana.
Hier soir, j’étais le commandant de bord du vol Air France 853 Cayenne Paris, un grand moment d’émotion partagé avec l’équipage, nos passagers, les infirmières, médecins, pompiers venus en renfort en Guyane une vue unique du décollage d’Ariane 5 ! @CNES @AirFranceFR @Thom_astro pic.twitter.com/HFdjPeeYZ2
— Boichut Eric (@BoichutE06) August 16, 2020
The passengers, mostly firefighters, and nurses who came to assist French Guiana hospitals with the COVID-19 pandemic, were particularly fortunate as the flight AF853 from Cayenne (CAY) to Paris-Charles de Gaulle (CDG) left one hour later than it was supposed to. After a previous flight from Paris arrived late, pilots were forced to scrap their flight plan and elaborate a new one that avoided the firing zone of Ariane 5.
Ariane 5, which successfully carried out its mission, transported two communication satellites and a satellite maintenance vehicle. “As part of this mission, three satellites were deployed by the most powerful Ariane 5 ever launched, thus demonstrating the competitiveness of our launch solutions and our capability for continuous innovation,” commented Stéphane Israël, the Chief Executive Officer of Arianespace.
The completion of the mission comes as a relief for Arianespace, as the launch had to be postponed twice over meteorological concerns and technical reasons. It marked the 253rd flight of an Ariane rocket since the maiden launch, L01, of December 24, 1979.