History: Ariane L01, 1979

Ariane, 1979: Spectacular view of an Ariane from the top of the launch platform at ESA's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, a few days before launch in December 1979. The total height of the launcher is 47.4 metres.

The first flight of an Ariane rocket was scheduled for 15 December 1979. On that day, in front of a large and expectant audience at Kourou, the countdown reached zero and the rocket motor underneath the launcher roared into life – and then went out.

Fortunately, the fault was not serious and the launch was rescheduled for 23 December, but then bad weather and a few small problems led to yet another delay. The next attempt proved to be third time lucky. On 24 December, at 14:14 local time, Ariane 1 blasted into space from Europe’s Spaceport and Europe’s independent adventure in space had begun.

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