Europe’s Launch Vehicle

The Ariane 5 heavy-lift rocket is an expendable launch system used to launch payloads into orbit by paying commercial customers. The Ariane 5 is a European Space Agency (ESA) program operated by Arianespace and launched from the Guiana Space Centre in French Guiana.


Top 10 Facts About The Reliable Ariane 5 Rocket!

  1. The Ariane 5 is classed as a heavy-lift rocket because it can deliver over 20 tonnes (44,000 lbs) to low Earth orbit (LEO) and nearly 11 tonnes (24,250 lbs) to the higher Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO).
  2. The Ariane 5 is 5.4 m (18 ft) in diameter and up to 52 m (171 ft) tall with a weight at lift-off of 777,000 kg (1,713,000 lbs)!
  3. The first stage of the Ariane 5 is powered by a single Vulcain 2 engine burning liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen to deliver 310,000 lbf (1,390 kN) of thrust.
  4. Strapped to each side of the first stage core are solid rocket boosters (SRBs) similar to what was used by the Space Shuttle to launch. The SRBs are not recovered and are allowed to sink to the bottom of the ocean after use.
  5. The second stage engine of the Ariane 5 also burns liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen and can be restarted, if required, to place separate payloads in different orbits.
  6. Arianespace operates from the Guiana Space Centre in French Guiana to take advantage of its location near the equator which helps launch larger payloads to space.
  7. During the maiden flight of the Ariane 5 on June 4th 1996, a software error caused the rocket to self-destruct 37 seconds after launch – not a good start! View the video of the launch and explosion here!
  8. Since the early failures and setbacks, the ESA Ariane 5 has built up a formidable reputation as a reliable launch vehicle having over 90 consecutive successful (including 1 partial success) launches since late 2002!
  9. It is estimated that it costs launch customers, like telecommunications customers, between USD$150-200 million to launch their satellites with an Ariane 5. This is increasingly being considered expensive with the emergence of SpaceX's reuseable Falcon 9 rocket.
  10. The Ariane 5 is so reliable that NASA is trusting it to launch the US$10 Billion James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) in 2021!
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