Ariane 5 is similar to the Space Shuttle in that both vehicles are powered by SRBs and use foam insulation in cryogenic tanks.

Foam shedding has been a common occurrence during the history of the Space Shuttle program.(CAIB 2003) Has similar incident been observed during Ariane 5 launches? If so, which one? If not, what makes Ariane's foam less likely to shed?

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    $\begingroup$ Wayne Hale concluded that the main cause of foam shedding on the shuttle ET was repeated cryogenic fill cycles on the tank, which cracked the foam. If Ariane has fewer fill cycles, that could make it less likely to crack. But I have no knowledge of Ariane launch ops. waynehale.wordpress.com/2012/04/18/how-we-nearly-lost-discovery $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Feb 7 at 17:13

Yes, at least once, for the Rosetta launch. The damage was discovered before the launch:

A fallen chunk of foam insulation from the rocket’s fuel tank scuppered the latest launch attempt. During a final inspection of the Ariane-5 launch rocket at 0100 GMT on Friday, a 10 by 15 centimetre chunk of foam was found on the movable launch “table” that supports the rocket.

The 30-metre-high cylindrical main stage of the rocket is covered with foam to keep its cryogenically cooled liquid oxygen and hydrogen fuel from heating to the tropical temperatures of the launch site in Kourou, French Guiana.

If the launch had proceeded, rocket operators say water vapour in the air could have cooled to form a 100-gram block of ice on the exposed surface. During flight, the ice could “separate and cause bad damage”, says Jean-Yves Le Gall, chief executive officer of Arianespace, the rocket’s manufacturer.

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    $\begingroup$ it's a bit surprising they would consider ice shedding a big risk - there's very little that can be hit. From the first stage, only the SRBs are in range, and those have thick steel walls. The first stage engine could take an indirect hit, I suppose (ice bouncing off the SRB and hitting the engine). $\endgroup$ – Hobbes Feb 7 at 18:35
  • $\begingroup$ strictly speaking that was a foam loss before the launch, not during the launch $\endgroup$ – JCRM Feb 8 at 13:57

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