Ariane 5 is the cornerstone of Europe’s independent access to space. Its reliability, availability and affordability are based on a strategy where a significant part of the exploitation costs is financed through commercial activity.
Ariane 5 is launched six to seven times a year, of which only one or two are for institutional customers.
This strategy has proved to be highly successful for more than 30 years. The successive versions of the first generation of rockets, Ariane 1, 2, 3 and Ariane 4 series, launched half of all the world’s commercial satellites.
Ariane 5 maintains this impressive record, making it one of the most reliable launchers in the world at an affordable price for Europe.
Ariane 5 was a major evolution for the Ariane family. It is more powerful and uses more advanced technologies. Three successive generic versions – Ariane 5G, Ariane 5G+ and Ariane 5GS, are now retired from service.
The Ariane 5 ES was used for various missions, such as the Automated Transfer Vehicle in low orbit and Galileo in medium orbit. It was retired from service on 25 July 2018.
There is now one operational configuration – Ariane 5 ECA, the Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO) workhorse, mainly delivers communications satellites.
The Ariane launch log to January 2020, stands at 16 Ariane 5G, 3 Ariane 5G+, 6 Ariane 5GS, 74 Ariane 5 ECA and 8 Ariane 5 ES, for a total of 107 launches.
Out of these Ariane 5 launches, two failures have occurred :
- V501, on 4 June 1996, the first Ariane 5G flight failed because of a system software design error;
- V517, on 11 December 2002, the first Ariane 5 ECA flight, owing to a failure of the Vulcain 2 main cryogenic engine.