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Trigger warning: jaw-dropping picture enter image description here

Source: (Warning, more pictures) Ars Technica Credits: ESA/Trevor Mahlmann Launch: VA250

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    $\begingroup$ That is indeed a fine picture. $\endgroup$ Dec 4, 2019 at 0:51

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That is a cover plate at the top of the Etage d'Acceleration à Poudre (EAP) – solid rocket booster at the nose cone that at the time of launch comes off exposing the separation rockets.

EAP Solid Rocket Booster Infographic

Video of Covers coming off

This slow motion video of the Ariane V launch shows the plates coming off a few seconds after ignition. In the video, they fall away at 41 second mark.

More information:

Ariane 5 Rocket

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  • $\begingroup$ What does EAP stand for? $\endgroup$ Dec 3, 2019 at 2:57
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    $\begingroup$ It's "Etage d'Acceleration à Poudre", French for Solid Rocket Booster. I added that to my answer. I could not figure out what it meant and had to search further. $\endgroup$
    – gwally
    Dec 3, 2019 at 3:03
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks, this and your edit makes it much clearer, +1 $\endgroup$ Dec 3, 2019 at 3:04
  • $\begingroup$ What is their purpose ? $\endgroup$
    – Antzi
    Dec 3, 2019 at 4:15
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    $\begingroup$ Their purpose is to prevent frost forming on the front attachment points. They're blocks of insulation foam. $\endgroup$
    – Hobbes
    Dec 3, 2019 at 8:43

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