Ariane 5


January 24, 2022

The Ariane 5 launch vehicle is part of the European Space Agency's ESA Ariane space program. The rocket is designed primarily to launch telecommunications satellites into geostationary orbit from the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana on the American continent. It was also used to launch the ATV spacecraft.

Basic characteristics

The Ariane 5 launch vehicle is very similar in design to the American Titan 3. The entire Ariane 5 missile weighs almost 700 tons. The load capacity on a geostationary orbit is 6,200 kg when launching with one satellite or 5,700 kg when launching with several satellites at once.


Central level

The central (first stage) Ariane 5 launch vehicle is called the H-173 and is powered by the cryogenic engine Vulcain Mk. 2 with a thrust of 1,420 kN. During its operation, the engine consumes approximately 150 tons of fuel mixture, which consists of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen.

Auxiliary starting blocks

Together with the central stage, two powerful P-241 accelerator engines for solid fuels also work at the start. Each of these engines develops a thrust of 7.08 MN and consumes, in 130 seconds of its operation, 240 tons of HTPB (hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene), along with aluminum and ammonium perchlorate.

Second degree

The second stage of ECS-A serves to finally guide the payload to the required orbit around the Earth. The drive unit consists of an HM7B + motor with a thrust of 64.8 kN. Liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen are used as propellants.

Test flights


The first Ariane-5 test flight on June 4, 1996 was unsuccessful and ended tens of seconds after the launch of 3,500 meters of explosions, including the $ 500 million Cluster satellites. The cause was a failure of the control computer.


The second test flight was more successful. The rocket took off on Thursday, October 30, 1997 at 2:34 PM CET from the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana. Thus, two non-functional models and a small experimental scientific satellite entered the orbit. However, the rocket's main engine (Vulcain 1) stopped 7 seconds earlier and the rocket reached an altitude of only 27,000 km instead of the planned 35,000 km. The reason was the excessive rotation of the rocket around the longitudinal axis and thus the spread of fuel on the walls of the tanks.


The third test, the so-called qualifying flight, started on October 21, 1998 and was completely successful. Therefore, the rocket was qualified for commercial flights.

Commercial use

The Ariane 5 rocket, designated the AR-503, completed its first successful flight on December 10, 1999, when it launched the XMM satellite into orbit. The rocket was also to be used as a carrier for the European space shuttle Hermes, but the project was canceled. In the years 2010-2014 Ariane 5 launched or will launch into orbit the geostationary satellite of the Indian geolocation system GAGAN.

Research and development

The missile was used to launch ATV drones, for example, on June 5, 2013, the Albert Einstein ATV-4 transported the ISS.


Parts for the Ariane 5 rocket (aerodynamic covers for auxiliary engines) are manufactured by the Czech company Aerotech Czech based in Klatovy.




Angara - heavy carrier of Russia (modular) Antares - heavy vehicle USA (private) Ariane 6 - ESA heavy carrier being prepared Atlas V - heavy vehicle USA (modular) Delta IV - heavy carrier USA (modular) Falcon 9 - heavy vehicle USA (private, modular) H-II - heavy carrier of Japan Naro-1 - the first degree derived from URM-1 Angara Long March - carrier of the People's Republic of China Long March 5 - heavy carrier of the People's Republic of China GSLV Mk.3 - heavy carrier India Soyuz 2 - the medium carrier of Russia and ESA Proton - heavy carrier of Russia Titan IIIC - US heavy vehicle (historical) Vega - sister light

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