Ariane 5

Launch Vehicle

ESA / CNES / Arianespace

Architecture | Performances | Industrial Team

Historical Background
CNES began studying designs for an Ariane 5 vehicle in 1977 as a derivative of the proposed Ariane 4 vehicle with a cryogenic second stage. This concept was abandonned in 1984 in favor of a completely new vehicle with a cryogenic core stage and large solid strap on boosters. The vehicle was to be man-rated in order to loft the Hermes space plane to low Earth orbit. This design was upgraded several times in the following years as the launch mass of Hermes grew to up to 22 t.
ESA took over the program for preliminary study in January 1985 and full development in November 1987.
The cancellation of the Hermes space plane in 1992 did not affect the program which is intended to provide autonomous access to space for Europe beyond the phasing out of the Ariane 4 in 2000.
First qualification flight failed on June 4, 1996.
Second and third qualification flights are planned for fall 1997 and early 1998. Arianespace is to take over operations by mid 1998.
Improvements are planned to be introduced progressively to increase launch performances from 1998 to 2000.
An upgraded Ariane 5E is scheduled for 2003.
Launch Sites
Kourou, French Guiana (13° 41′ N / 80° 14′ E)
Launch Log
Major References
The Orbital Launcher Report
Volume 1
N°4, N°6, N°7, N°8, N°9, N°10
Volume 2
N°1, N°2, N°3, N°4, N°5, N°6, N°7, N°8, N°9, N°10
Volume 3
N°1, N°3, N°4, N°6, N°7, N°8, N°9

Number of Stages 2 + 2 boosters
Total Length 45.71 to 51.37 m depending on upper composite
Gross Lift Off Mass 746,000 kg
Strap-On Boosters
Designation EAP (P230) two units
Diameter 3.05 m
Length 31.162 m
Total Mass 277,100 kg each
Propellant HTPB
Propellant Mass 237,800 kg
Engine MPS one each
Burning Time 130 sec.
Specific Impulse 271 sec. vacuum
Average Thrust 4,827 kN vacuum
Maximum Thrust 6,254 kN vacuum
First Stage
Designation EPC (H155)
Diameter 5.458 m
Length 30.525 m
Total Mass 170,300 kg at H0
Propellant LH2 + LOx
Propellant Mass 158,100 kg at H0
Engine Vulcain 1
Burning Time 589 sec. after liftoff (7 sec. before)
Specific Impulse 431.2 sec. vacuum
Average Thrust 1,114 kN vacuum
Second Stage
Designation EPS (L9)
Diameter 5.460 m with Vehicle Equipment Bay
Length 3.356 m
Total Mass 12,500 kg with Vehicle Equipment Bay
Propellant MMH + N2O4
Propellant Mass 9,700 kg
Engine Aestus
Burning Time 1,100 sec.
Specific Impulse 324 sec. vacuum
Average Thrust 29 kN vacuum
Sylda 5 (Multiple Launch Internal Structure)
Diameter 4.5 m / 4.561 m internal / external
Length 3.244 m
Speltra (Multiple Launch External Structure)
Diameter 5.375 m / 5.435 m internal / external
Length 4.16 m / 5.66 m short / long versions
Diameter 4.57 m / 5.425 m internal / external
Length 12.728 m / 17 m short / long versions

Low Earth Orbit

18,000 kg

500 km, 28.5°
Sun-Synchronous Orbit

> 10,000 kg

800 km, 98.6°
Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit

6,800 kg / 5,970 kg

580 x 35,786 km, 7° single launch / dual launch

Industrial Team
Program Manager
European Space Agency (ESA)
Prime Contractor
Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES)
Production Manager
Industrial Architect
Aerospatiale Espace & Defense
Main Subcontractors
Aerospatiale Espace & Defense EPC, EAP, Flight Programs
Matra Marconi Space (MMS) Vehicle Equipment Bay
Daimler-Benz Aerospace (DASA) EPS, Aestus, Vulcain 1 Combustion Chamber
Societe Europeenne de Propulsion (SEP) Vulcain 1
Europropulsion MPS
Oerlikon-Contraves Payload Fairings
Dornier Satellitensysteme Speltra, Sylda 5
CASA Payload Adaptors
Saab Ericsson Space Payload Adaptors
MAN Technologie EAP Structures
Cryospace EPC Cryogenic Tanks
Volvo Aero Vulcain 1 Exhaust Nozzle and Turbines
Dassault Aviation Pyrotechnics

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