Worries grow over Ariane rockets

I'm sure they are alright really - probs just their competition pushing some bad press around.

"New doubts emerged on Wednesday about the reliability of the whole Ariane 5 family of European space rockets after scientists explained why they cancelled an ambitious €1bn ($1.06bn) mission to land a craft on the comet Wirtanen.

European Space Agency (ESA) officials said investigations into last month's failure of an enhanced Ariane 5 rocket on its inaugural flight revealed doubts about general Ariane 5 management procedures and the safety of the rockets. David Southwood, ESA science director, told a news conference he was initially "quite calm" about the Rosetta comet mission when news broke that the enhanced Ariane 5 had veered off course and been destroyed.

Rosetta was to fly this month on a version of the standard Ariane 5 rocket, of which a dozen have already been launched. But ESA scientists, who had been hoping to launch Rosetta before the window of opportunity for reaching Wirtanen closed at the end of this month, lost confidence as they reviewed the implications of the accident.

"In the process of review and analysis, doubts arose about the procedures of verification - the rigour, so to speak - of the system," Mr Southwood said. "We think that the way things are done needs to be reviewed from the bottom up.""

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