CNES projects library
The Ariane 5 heavy-lift launcher has assured Europe’s access to space since late 90s. It quickly established itself as the world leader in the launch market for geostationary telecommunications satellites, offering the ability to place 10 tonnes for a dual launch and 10.8 tonnes for a single launch into geostationary transfer orbit. It also provided the capacity to loft 21 tonnes into low Earth orbit, as it did for the ATV cargo spacecraft that ferried supplies to the International Space Station.
Ariane 5 is an evolutionary launcher. Five variants have been built in two decades to accommodate increasingly heavier satellites and meet the needs of institutional and commercial customers. Only one variant—Ariane 5 ECA—is currently commercially operated.
Ariane 5's career comes to an end in June 2023. To its credit: 117 launches, including 82 consecutively successful launches for all versions, and 235 satellites put into orbit with unrivalled precision. These figures have established Ariane 5 as one of the world's most reliable launchers.
Ariane 5 is set to be replaced by Ariane 6, a cheaper, even more powerful and versatile vehicle scheduled to make its maiden flight in late 2023.