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Ariane 5

Ariane 5: Europe’s heavy-lift launcher

In 1973, Charles Hanin, President of the European space conference, affirmed: "Ariane is a strong symbol of what Europe can do when it is united." That statement is as true today as it was then.

Ariane's technical, industrial and commercial success has made it an international benchmark in space transport, underlining Europe's exceptional capabilities supported by a common space policy.

Ariane 5 is the latest in the series, which has a proven track record since 1979. The programme was approved by European space ministers in 1987.
More powerful than its predecessors, Ariane 5 is geared toward future market requirements while assuring Europe's independent access to space and maintaining its position in the commercial launch market.

Leveraging the technological heritage of the entire Ariane family of launchers, Ariane 5 is designed with simplicity and reliability in mind—2 key concepts for boosting the launcher's competitiveness.
Ariane 5's architecture also leaves plenty of room to evolve to keep pace with changing demand.

The Ariane 5 programme is a central element of Europe's space policy and a fine commercial achievement that has captured over 50% of the launch market for satellites in geostationary orbit.

Ariane 5
Initiator The European Space Agency (ESA) based on a CNES proposal
Origin Inter-ministerial conference at The Hague in November 1987
Participants European countries, organized by ESA
Status Currently operational
Objectives Maintain Europe's independence and competitiveness in space transport
1st flight 4 June 1996


Updated: January 2010
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