Ariane-5 (Expendable Rocket) is part of the European Union’s Space Program. At present, the Ariane 5 functions as a Commercial Satellite Launcher and was used to launch the ATV Cargo/Supply Spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS). Ariane-5 is the successor to Ariane-4.

Ariane-5 Picture

Ariane 5 Specifications:

The Main Cryogenic Stage is the core of the Ariane 5 launcher. It is 30 meters high and utilizes the Vulcain Rocket Engine. The propellants are Liquid Hydogen and Liquid Oxygen.

Two Solid Rocket Boosters are around 30 metres high. The two solid boosters deliver more than 90 percent of the total launcher’s thrust at the start of flight. 

Upper Stage is used to propel the payload to its final orbit. The upper stage uses storable propellants.

Ariane-5 is developing new upper stages, along with modifications to the main cryogenic stage and solid boosters, that will increase performance and meet demands of space commercial launch market.

Ariane-5 Upper Stages:

Ariane-5 ESC-A upper stage will enable Ariane 5 to place 10,000-10,500 kg into geostationary orbit beginning in 2002. 

Ariane 5 ESC-B upper stage will increase GTO payload performance to 11,000-12,000 kg from 2006. It is powered by the new Vinci engine.

Ariane 5 Versatile is an improved version of Ariane 5’s current upper stage. It will be paced in service in late 2001. This will increase the GTO payload lift capability to 7,300-8,000 kg. 

Cryogenic Main Stage and Solid Boosters
The main stage’s propellant tanks will be changed and a new Vulcain engine version used, while the solid boosters’ propellant load is to be increased.

History of the Ariane-5

The first flight of the Ariane 5 was in June, 1996 carrying four ESA Cluster satellites, unfortunately the launch failed. Ariane 5’s first commercially successful launch was the European Space Agency’s X-ray Multi Mirror (XMM) Space Telescope. 

Ariane-5’s payload capacity to geostationary transfer orbit is 6,200-kg. Arianespace is in progress of increasing Ariane 5’s performance to 12,000 in GTO.

Ariane 5 ME

In January 2014 Ariane 5 ME (Midlife Evolution) upgrade was on the table for ESA governments to decide, alongside the new Ariane 6 rocket for a meeting scheduled for December 2014 in Luxembourg. The upgrade would have cost about 1 billion euros ($1.35 billion $2014 dollars) to complete. It would have flown in 2018 and have been capable of lifting satellites weighing 11,000 kgs into geostationary transfer orbit.

At the ESA Ministerial Council meeting in December 2014 the Ariane-5 ME upgrade was cancelled and for development to concentrate on developing the Ariane 6.

 Ariane 5 ME Picture

Ariane-5 upgrade….Ariane 5 ME

Did you know?

ESA is working on an Ariane-5 successor. Yes – Ariane-6.

Ariane-5 Links:

ESA Ariane 5 Home Page:
Ariane 5 – Arianespace: The Heavy Launcher
Ariane-5: from astronautic
Ariane 5 ECA – Rockets: Spaceflight101


Arianespace, Launcher Family, Ariane 5 Introduction: Spaceflight Magazine, page 91, Vol. 42, March 2000.

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