January 27, 2022

The Ariane-5 is the most powerful launch vehicle in Europe that would have been originally used to launch the Hermes spacecraft. In the meantime, the Hermes project has been suspended, but the Ariane-5 program has continued. The Ariane-5 first flew in 1996, unsuccessfully. It would then have launched four Cluster satellites to study the effects of the solar wind. The Arettae-5 launched the Rosetta in 2004, the SMART-1 spacecraft and, from 2008, the ATV cargo ships to the International Space Station.


The first grade of cryogenic Ariane-5 H158 (H173 at Ariane-5 ECA) is called EPC (Étage Principal Cryotechnique). It consists of a 1.13 MN thrust Vulcain engine and a 30.5 meter high tank divided into two parts. One part is 130 tons of liquid oxygen and the other is 25 tons of liquid hydrogen. On the side of the first gear is the two solid propulsion P238 (P241 for the Ariane – 5 ECA) with a total propulsion weight of 277 tons and a thrust of 6.2 MN. They can parachute back to the ground after launch, similar to the Space Shuttle’s acceleration gear, but they can’t be reused. Ariane-5G uses a second stage of EPS (Étage à Propergols Stockables), which is powered by monomethylhydrazine (MMH) and nitrogen tetroxide. The second stage of Ariane – 5 ECA is ESC (Étage Supérieur Cryotechnique, i.e. Cryogenic Upper Grade) with liquid hydrogen and oxygen. The payload and upper gears are protected by covers that come off when the height is reached.


The original version of the Ariane – 5G (Generic) with an initial weight of 737 t increased the planned 5970 kg load to a geostationary transition track to 6200 kg. The second gear was previously used as the third gear on the Ariane-4. The Ariane – 5G + was able to put 6950 kg on a temporary track with an improved, now restartable second gear. It was launched three times in 2004. It was replaced in 2005 by the Ariane – 5GS, with the same acceleration gear as the Ariane – 5 ECA and a modified first gear, the Vulcain-1B transmission. You can start a single load of 6100 kg. The Ariane – 5 ECA has a load capacity of 10 t with two loads and 10.5 t with a single load. This version uses the first gear with the new Vulcain-2 gearbox and an ESC-A second gear with the HM-7B gearbox. The propellant of the ESC-A stage is liquid hydrogen and oxygen, with a total weight of 16.5 t and an empty weight of 2.1 t. The Ariane – 5 ES The version used to start the Automated Transfer Vehicle with the accelerators and first gear of the ECA version and the second gear of the GS version. Ariane-5 ECB Version under development. Planned load capacity per GTO 12 t. This version uses a first gear equipped with a Vulcain-2 gearbox and a second gear ESC-B with the Vinci gearbox currently under development. The ESC-B grade is powered by liquid hydrogen and oxygen, with a total weight of 27t and an empty weight of 3.4t.


The first test flight of the Ariane-5 (Ariane-5 Flight 501) failed on June 4, 1996. The rocket performed self-destruction 37 seconds after launch due to a failure in the control software. This was one of the most expensive computer failures in history. The error was an exception when converting 64-bit data to 16-bit. The 64-bit data was too large to fit on 16 bits. The second test flight (502) on 30 October 1997 was only a partial success. The middle grade stopped too early, so the upper grade did not reach the right track. The next test flight was successful on October 21, 1998, and the first commercial launch took place on December 10, 1999 with the XMM-Newton star.

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