Spaceflight Insider

The Hangar / Ariane 5

Ariane 5 Photo

Photo Credit: Jeremy Beck / SpaceFlight Insider

Arianespace Logo
Flight Record 98/101

The Ariane 5 is a heavy-lift launch vehicle built by Arianespace and Airbus Safran Launchers. Featuring a new core stage and two solid rocket boosters, Ariane 5 also includes a cryogenic upper stage powered by the flight-proven cryogenic engine of its predecessor, Ariane 4. The Ariane 5 is able to place heavy payloads into geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO) and has also been used to launch the European Space Agency’s Automated Transfer Vehicle to the International Space Station.

Ariane 5 has been the workhorse of Europe’s commercial and government launch vehicle fleet, tallying up 85 successful flights since 1998. The vehicle experienced a catastrophic failure on its maiden flight in 1996 due to a software error, as well as one additional failure and two partial failures early in its service, but has flown successfully since 2002.

Vehicle Capability/Description

The Ariane 5 is a 2.5-stage rocket with two solid rocket boosters and a cryogenic liquid hydrogen / liquid oxygen first stage powered by a Safran Aircraft Engines (formerly SNECMA Moteurs) Vulcain 2 engine. Its cryogenic liquid hydrogen / liquid oxygen upper stage is powered by a Safran Aircraft Engines HM7B engine. It is capable of lofting up to 44,092 pounds (20,000 kg) to Low Earth Orbit (LEO), 22,046 pounds (10,000 kg) to GTO, and 15,432 pounds (7,000 kg) to the Moon.

The vehicle has evolved over time, with the variants being numbered as follows:

5 G: The original Ariane 5 G (“Generic”) version, which used a hypergolic EPS second stage with a 25.5 kN thrust Aestus engine.

5 ECA (“Evolution”): Flies an evolved core stage, powered by an upgraded Vulcain 2 of 304,233.9 lbf (1,353.3 kN) thrust capability, and an ESC-A upper stage. ESC-A is an upgraded Ariane 4 LOX/LH2 third stage with a 14,118 lbf (62.8 kN) thrust HM7B engine. The “E” vehicles also include slightly upgraded solid rocket boosters. Ariane 5 ECA can boost about 22,046 pounds (10,000 kg) to GTO, including satellite adapter hardware. It is approximately 190 feet (58 meters tall) and includes a long payload fairing.

ES(V) (“Versatile”): Ariane 5 ES(V) flew for the first time in March 2008. This version uses the “E” core stage and the same solid rocket boosters as the Ariane 5 ECA. Ariane 5 ES(V) uses an Aestus-powered storable propellant (EPS-V) stage that can carry as much as 22,046.2 pounds (10,000 kg) of propellant, with smaller propellant loads used for LEO missions. The “ES(V)” EPS-V stage can be restarted, which is an innovation over the G version. Ariane 5 ES(V) was developed to launch the ATV to the International Space Station.

Mission Profile

Ariane 5 launches from the Guiana Space Centre (CSG) in Kourou, French Guiana, at 5.3° North of the Equator. The Vulcain 2 engine of the cryogenic main core stage is ignited at T+1 second. Until T+7.05 seconds, the onboard computer checks the behavior of the engine and authorizes liftoff by igniting the two solid rocket boosters (SRBs). Upon liftoff, the vehicle performs a pitch and roll maneuver over the Atlantic. The SRBs burn for 129 seconds before being jettisoned.

Main engine cutoff occurs when the intermediate target orbit is reached, with the stage separating six seconds later. After its separation, the main stage is put in a flat spin mode by opening a lateral venting hole in the hydrogen tank. This control procedure provides a re-entry and a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean for standard A5ECA GTO missions.

Upper stage ignition occurs a few seconds after main stage separation. The upper stage burns until the stage and payload reach their target orbit. The separation sequence of the spacecraft begins 2 seconds later.

Vehicle Status

Ariane 5

The Ariane 5 is currently operational, though Arianespace and Safran are in the process of upgrading the vehicle. Future plans call for the development of a new 3,304.7 lbf (14.7 kN) thrust, restartable Vinci upper-stage engine to replace the HM7B. The re-engined stage, named ESC-B, will result in an upgraded Ariane 5 ECB capable of lifting 26,455.5 pounds (12,000 kg) to GTO. Ariane 5 ECB is scheduled to enter service in 2017 or 2018.

Beyond the ECB model is a planned Mid-Life Evolution (ME) vehicle, which will serve as the transition vehicle to Ariane 6. The ME variant will include composite-construction solid rocket boosters, a cryogenic main stage, and a cryogenic upper stage; also, an extended composite payload fairing and a higher-thrust (40,465.6 lbf / 180 kN) Vinci upper-stage engine. The ME is slated to have a payload of up to 26,455.5 pounds (12,000 kg) to GTO.

Ariane 6

Ariane 6 is a follow-on heavy-lift vehicle that Airbus Safran Launchers hopes to fly by 2020. Ariane 6 will be operated in two different configurations: an “institutional” version outfitted with two strap-on solid-propellant boosters (designated A62), and a four-solid-propellant-booster “commercial” version (A64). Both configurations include a liquid hydrogen / liquid oxygen main stage based on the Ariane 5 ECA version’s Vulcain engine and a LOX/LH2 cryogenic upper stage powered by a Vinci engine. The A62 and A64 also will both be capable of re-ignition and will be able to perform a direct deorbiting and controlled re-entry of the upper stage.

The new Vulcain-based cryogenic main stage engine will generate 307,988.3 lbf (1,370 kN) thrust. Ariane 6 will also fly two or four new P120C solid rocket boosters, which will also be used on the upcoming Vega C vehicle. Capable of lifting 11,023.1 pounds (5,000 kg) to GTO, the A62 model will be used primarily for single-payload missions with medium-sized satellites, whereas the A64 model will be capable of launching 23,148.5 pounds (10,500 kg) to GTO – in a two-payload layout.

Ariane 6 is targeted to perform five launches annually with the A62 configuration and six per year using the A64 version from a new launch pad to be constructed at the Kourou Spaceport in French Guiana.

Payloads

Launch History
Status Operational
Launch Sites Guiana Space Centre
Total Flights 96
Successes 92
Failures 2 complete, 2 partial
June 4, 1996
October 30, 1997
July 12, 2001
December 11, 2002
First Flight October 21, 1998

The Ariane 5 has launched a range of payloads for the European Space Agency and commercial customers, including the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), the Galileo global positioning satellite system, EUTELSAT 25B, and the INSAT-3D. It will continue to support ESA until the advent of Ariane 6.

Ariane 5G
Short / Medium / Long
Height 46.1 m / 47.2 m / 50.4 m
Diameter 5.4 m
Mass 720,000 kg
Payload Upmass (LEO) 9,500 kg
Payload Upmass (GTO) 6,640 kg
Ariane 5 ES (V)
Short / Medium / Long
Height 46.1 m / 47.2 m / 50.4 m
Diameter 5.4 m
Mass 760,000 kg
Payload Upmass (SSO) 15,700 kg
Payload Upmass (ISS) 19,300 kg
Payload Upmass (GTO) 7,575 kg
Ariane 5 ECA
Short / Medium / Long
Height 49.5 m / 50.55 m / 54.7 m
Diameter 5.4 m
Mass 780,000 kg
Payload Upmass (GTO) 10,050 kg
Ariane 5 ECB
Short / Medium / Long
Height 49.5 m / 50.55 m / 54.7 m
Diameter 5.4 m
Mass ~800,000 kg
Payload Upmass (GTO) 12,000 kg
Cryogenic Core Stage (Generic "G")
Manufacturer Airbus Safran Launchers
Engine Vulcain
No. Engines 1
Length 30.5 m
Diameter 5.4 m
Empty Mass 12,000 kg
Propellant Mass 158,000 kg
Gross Mass 170,000 kg
Thrust 1,075 kN
Propellant Liquid hydrogen / Liquid oxygen
Specific impulse 431.2 seconds (vacuum) 326 seconds (sea level)
Burn time 605 seconds
Cryogenic Core Stage (Evolution "E")
Manufacturer Airbus Safran Launchers
Engine Vulcain 2
No. engines 1
Length 30.5 m
Diameter 5.4 m
Empty Mass 14,000 kg
Propellant Mass 175,000 kg
Gross Mass 189,000 kg
Thrust 1,350 kN
Propellant Liquid hydrogen / Liquid oxygen
Specific impulse 431.2 seconds
Burn time 540 seconds
Solid Rocket Boosters
Manufacturer EADS/LV (France)
No. Engines 2
Length 31.6 m
Diameter 3 m
Empty Mass 38,000 kg
Propellant Mass 240,000 kg
Gross Mass 278,000 kg
Thrust 5,000.4 kN
Propellant Ammonium perchlorate, aluminum powder, polybutadiene
Specific impulse 274.5 seconds
Burn time 130 seconds
Cryogenic Upper Stage (EPS-V)
Manufacturer Airbus Safran Launchers
Engine Aestus
No. Engines 1
Length N/A
Diameter 5.4 m
Empty Mass 1,300 kg
Propellant Mass 10,000 kg
Gross Mass 11,300 kg
Thrust 29 kN
Propellant Monomethyl hydrazine / Nitrogen tetroxide
Specific impulse 321 seconds
Burn time 1,000 seconds
Cryogenic Upper Stage (ESC-A)
Manufacturer Airbus Safran Launchers
Engine HM7B
No. engines 1
Length 4.711 m
Diameter 5.4 meters
Empty Mass 4,540 kg
Propellant Mass 14,900 kg
Gross Mass 19,440 kg
Thrust 63 kN
Propellant Liquid hydrogen / Liquid oxygen
Specific impulse 446 seconds
Burn time 945 seconds
Cryogenic Upper Stage (ESC-B)
Manufacturer Airbus Safran Launchers
Engine Vinci
No. engines 1
Length N/A
Diameter 5.4 m
Propellant Mass 25,000 kg
Thrust 150 kN
Propellant Liquid hydrogen / Liquid oxygen
Specific impulse 466 seconds

NETDec 4 GSAT-11 & GEO-KOMPSAT-2A
Vehicle Ariane 5 ECA
Location Guiana Space Centre ELA-3
Time TBD