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July 6, 2023

Ariane 5

Ariane 5 is the latest in the series of launchers that began operating in the late 1970s to give Europe its own independent space launch capability. To keep pace with the trend towards ever-larger satellites, it was designed with double the lift capacity of its predecessor Ariane 4. In its 27-year career, Ariane 5 has carried out 117 launches from the Guiana Space Center, putting more than 200 satellites into orbit.

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 was launched from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, alongside the light launcher Vega.

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.