Modern life increasingly depends on space-based services. Global communications, broadcasting, weather forecasts, Earth observation, and positioning and navigation systems all require reliable, high-performance and affordable launch systems.
With the highly successful Ariane family, ESA’s Member States have had independent access to space since 1979.
Three launchers today provide Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana with a full range of launch services and capabilities, for different types of satellites and orbits. Ariane 5 can carry multiple satellites and different types of payloads weighing up to 10 t into geostationary transfer orbit and over 20 t into low orbits. Vega can place satellites of 1.5 t in a polar orbit and can carry multiple payloads. The Soyuz launcher places payloads of up to 3.2 t into geostationary transfer orbit.
ESA and European industry are now building the new Ariane 6 launcher and Vega C. These are being developed in parallel to maximize the use of common technologies, processes and equipment.