Ariane 5 is a European heavy-lift space launch vehicle developed and operated by Arianespace for the European Space Agency (ESA). It is launched from the Centre Spatial Guyanais (CSG) in French Guiana.

It has been used to deliver payloads into geostationary transfer orbit (GTO) or low Earth orbit (LEO). The launch vehicle had a streak of 82 consecutive successful launches between 9 April 2003 and 12 December 2017. Since 2014, Ariane 6, a direct successor system, is in development.

Ariane’s double tank (fuel the Viking engine to take-off). Capacity: 21.5 t of N2O4 and 11.5 t of propellant UDMH

The system was designed as an expendable launch system by the Centre national d’études spatiales (CNES), the French government’s space agency, in cooperation with various European partners.

Ariane’s exhaust system

Despite not being a direct derivative of its predecessor launch vehicle program, it is classified as part of the Ariane rocket family.

Ariane’s third stage double tank (fuel the cryogenic engine). Capacity: 6.7 t of liquid oxygen (-180°C) and 1.5 t of liquid hydrogen (-250°C)

ArianeGroup is the prime contractor for the manufacturing of the vehicles, leading a multi-country consortium of other European contractors.

Inter-stage conic skirt (links two stages)

Ariane 5 was originally intended to launch the Hermes spacecraft, and thus it is rated for human space launches.

Skirt before the first stage (to transmit the propulsion of the first stage to the launcher’s upper section

Since its first launch, Ariane 5 has been refined in successive versions: “G”, “G+”, “GS”, “ECA”, and most recently, “ES”.

Exterior of the nose-cone

The system has a commonly used dual-launch capability, where up to two large geostationary belt communication satellites can be mounted using a SYLDA (Système de Lancement Double Ariane, meaning “Ariane Double-Launch System”) carrier system.

Interior of the nose-cone

Up to three, somewhat smaller, main satellites are possible depending on size using a SPELTRA (Structure Porteuse Externe Lancement Triple Ariane, which translates to “Ariane Triple-Launch External Carrier Structure”).

Ariane 5 at Bourget Museum (Paris, France)

Country: France

First flight: 1996

Max speed: 25000 km/h

Altitude: 260 km

Mass: 777,000 kg

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