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Ariane 5 > Milestones

With its trademark dual-payload missions and unmatched performance, the workhorse Ariane 5 has become the heavy-lift launch vehicle of preference for satellite operators and manufacturers around the world.


  • July 15 – Ariane 5’s 80th flight – and the launcher’s 66th consecutive success – underscores Arianespace’s dual mission: to be a leader in the commercial space transportation sector, and ensure Europe’s independent access to space.  Designated Flight VA224, denoting the 224th overall launch of an Ariane-series launch vehicle, this mission orbited the Star One C4 telecommunications relay platform for Brazil’s Embratel Star One, and the European MSG-4 meteorological satellite for Eumetsat.


  • July 29 – The heavy-lift Ariane 5 workhorse orbits a record payload on Flight VA219, successfully placing the European Space  Agency’s final Automated Transfer Vehicle – with a mass of more than 20 metric tons at liftoff – into a circular orbit. This launch also marks the 60th consecutive “mission accomplished” for Ariane 5 since 2003.
  • February 6 – Ariane 5’s Flight VA217 successfully lofts ABS-2 for global satellite operator ABS and the French-Italian Athena-Fidus from the Spaceport in French Guiana, marking Arianespace’s 250th launch with its family of Ariane, Vega and Soyuz-series vehicles.


  • December 14 – The contract for 18 additional Ariane 5 ECA launchers is signed by Arianespace with Astrium, following an agreement concluded earlier in the year for long-lead items on these vehicles. This latest batch will be available for missions starting in 2017.
  • September 17 – Eighteen more Ariane 5 ECA launchers are set to begin production, following an initial agreement between Arianespace and prime contractor Astrium – covering early production activities and long-lead items valued at more than 400 million euros. This is in addition to the 35 heavy-lift vehicles (PB batch) ordered in 2009.
  • August 29 – Ariane 5 orbits the first satellite for Es’hailSat, the Qatar Satellite Company – EUTELSAT 25B/Es’hail 1 – which is co-operated with Eutelsat Communications and joins the India’s GSAT-7 on the 57th consecutive successful mission for this heavy-lift workhorse.
  • July 25 – The 70th flight of Arianespace’s Ariane 5 heavy-lift workhorse carries Europe’s largest ever telecommunications satellite, Alphasat, along with India’s INSAT-3D meteorological spacecraft on a mission to geostationary transfer orbit.

  • June 5 – In lofting the fourth Automated Transfer Vehicle, Ariane 5 orbits its heaviest payload – delivering a total lift performance of 20,252 kg. to low Earth orbit.
  • February 7 – Ariane 5 establishes a new record payload lift performance of 10,317 kg. to geostationary transfer orbit with its 2013 year-opening flight from the Spaceport, which deploys the Amazonas 3 and Azerspace/Africasat-1a telecommunications satellites.


  • December 19 – Arianespace’s seventh and final Ariane 5 flight of 2012 deploys the Skynet 5D and Mexsat Bicentenario satellites into orbit. Lifting off from the Spaceport in French Guiana, this mission marks Ariane 5's 53rd consecutive success.

  • August 2 – Ariane 5 marks its 50th consecutive mission success, further validating the heavy-lift launcher’s reliability and performance.  This milestone mission carries the Intelsat 20 and HYLAS 2 satellites, and delivers a world-record performance of nearly 10.2 metric tons total mass launched to geostationary transfer orbit.
  • May 15 – With the JCSAT-13 and VINASAT-2 payloads orbited by Ariane 5 on Flight VA206, Arianespace surpasses its 300th mark for the total number of primary satellite passengers launched from French Guiana.  This overall total does not include some 50 additional auxiliary or secondary payloads lofted on Arianespace flights.
  • March 23 – Arianespace’s third resupply mission with an Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) for the International Space Station delivers a record payload lift performance of over 20,000 kg.


  • November 7 Parallel flight preparations are underway for the first time with all three members of Arianespace’s full launcher family operating from French Guiana – consisting of the heavy-lift Ariane 5, medium Soyuz and lightweight Vega. This activity at the Spaceport includes build-up of the Ariane 5 that will orbit Europe’s third Automated Transfer Vehicle in early 2012 for servicing of the International Space Station.
  • October 24 – Arianespace’s launcher family is a reality as operational versions of the Ariane 5, Vega and Soyuz are present for the first time in French Guiana, positioned for upcoming missions.  A heavy-lift Ariane 5 for the VA205 mission with Europe’s third Automated Transfer Vehicle arrives from Europe aboard the MN Colibri sea-going ship, along with the no. 1 Vega for this lightweight launcher’s VV01 qualification flight in January 2012.  They join a Soyuz that is being prepared for Arianespace’s second launch of the medium-lift vehicle from the Spaceport, which is scheduled for December 16, 2011.
  • April 22 – Ariane 5 sets a new heavyweight record, delivering a total lift performance of 10,050 kg. to geostationary transfer orbit while lofting satellites for two new Arianespace customers: Al Yah Satellite Communications Company’s Yahsat Y1A spacecraft; and Intelsat New Dawn, which was built for a joint venture of Intelsat and Convergence Partners.

  • February 16 – On the historic 200th flight of an Ariane family vehicle, an Ariane 5 ES version successfully orbits Europe’s second Automated Transfer Vehicle – which is the heaviest payload ever lofted by Arianespace’s workhorse launcher.


  • November 26 – Ariane 5 logs its 40th consecutive success, orbiting INTELSAT 17 for the international satellite operator Intelsat and HYLAS 1 for the European operator Avanti Communications in a mission from the Spaceport.

  • June 26 – Arabsat-5A is lofted by Ariane 5 as the seventh Arabsat satellite orbited by Arianespace since 1985; COMS becomes a new Ariane-launched payload for South Korea.
  • May 21 – The 50th Ariane 5 is launched from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana with a mixed civilian and military telecommunications satellite payload – SES ASTRA's ASTRA 3B and Germany's


  • December 18 – With Ariane 5’s on-target launch of the Helios 2B military observation satellite from Europe’s Spaceport, Arianespace’s heavy-lift workhorse marks 35 consecutive successful missions during seven years of operation.
  • October 29 – Ariane 5 launches the NSS-12 and THOR 6 satellites from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, scoring a 34th consecutive mission success for Arianespace’s commercial heavy-lift workhorse.
  • October 1 – A mixed civilian/military telecom satellite payload – Amazonas 2 for Spain’s HISPASAT and COMSATBw-1 for the German armed forces – is successfully orbited by Ariane 5 on its fifth mission of 2009.
  • August 21 – Ariane 5 successfully lofts a pair of U.S.-built commercial telecommunications satellites for two key Asia-Pacific customers – JCSAT-12 and Optus D3 – on its fourth mission of 2009.
  • July 1 – Ariane 5 scores its 31st consecutive mission success with the launch of TerreStar-1, the largest telecommunications satellite ever orbited.

  • May 14 – Ariane’s first payloads destined for the Sun-Earth system's second Lagrange point (L2) are successfully lofted by an Ariane 5.  This flight – which Ariane 5’s 44th mission, and its 30th consecutive success – carries the European Space Agency’s Herschel space telescope and the Planck observatory.

  • February 12 – Ariane 5's on-target year-opening mission orbits HOT BIRD™ 10, NSS-9 and two Spirale payloads, marking the heavy-lift vehicle's 29th consecutive success.

  • January 30 – Arianespace signs a contract with Astrium Space Transportation for the production of 35 Ariane 5 ECAs, bringing the total number of heavy-lift launch vehicles under production to 49.


  • December 20 – Ariane 5 scores a dual success for Eutelsat, orbiting the HOT BIRD™ 9 and W2M satellites for this European-based telecommunications provider.
  • August 14 – Arianespace carries out its ninth Ariane 5 mission during a 12-month period, demonstrating the company’s ability to maintain its sustained flight rate with the workhorse heavy-lift vehicle.  This flight carried the Superbird-7 and AMC-21 satellite payloads.
  • June 12 – Arianespace performs its 25th consecutive Ariane 5 mission success, orbiting a dual satellite payload of Skynet 5C and Turksat 3A with an Ariane 5 ECA.
  • March 9 – Ariane 5 orbits its heaviest payload to date, placing the 19,000 kg.-Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) on its way to a rendezvous with the International Space Station.


  • November 14 – The Ariane 5 ECA launcher sets a new heavy-lift record, orbiting a total payload of more than 8,700 kg. with the Skynet 5B and Star One C1 satellites.
  • August 14 – Arianespace performs its first launch for Hughes Network Systems, orbiting the SPACEWAY 3 satellite on a dual-payload Ariane 5 ECA mission with BSAT-3a.
  • June 23 – Arianespace signs a preliminary order with Astrium for the production of 35 Ariane 5 launchers, which is in addition to the batch of 30 Ariane 5s ordered in 2004.


  • December 8 – Arianespace’s final Ariane 5 mission of the year orbits the WildBlue-1 and AMC-18 satellites, bringing total payloads lofted by Ariane 5 in 2006 to 10 primary satellites and one auxiliary passenger – more than all competitors combined.
  • May 27 – Ariane 5 delivers a record-setting dual-satellite payload of more than 8,200 kg. to GTO on its successful heavy-lift flight with the Satmex 6 & Thaicom 5 telecommunications satellites.


  • November 17 – The heavy-lift Ariane 5 ECA boosts a record payload into orbit by lofting the SPACEWAY 2 high-definition direct broadcast satellite for American operator DIRECTV, and the TELKOM 2 communications satellite for Indonesian operator PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia Tbk. With a total mass of over 8,000 kg. injected into orbit, the SPACEWAY 2 and TELKOM 2 satellites represent the heaviest dual payload ever launched.
  • February 12 – The Ariane 5 ECA launcher successfully orbits the XTAR-EUR communications satellite and the Sloshsat scientific payload, validating the heavy-lift launcher's performance and accuracy.


  • May 10 – An industry contract is signed for the manufacture of 30 Ariane 5 launchers, providing a production volume that will enable Arianespace to enhance its performance, ensure launch service continuity and maintain its competitiveness on the international launcher market. The 30-launcher batch will consist primarily of standardized Ariane 5 ECA vehicles, but also will include the Ariane 5 ES version for missions with the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV).


  • September 27 – Ariane 5 carries its first triple-spacecraft payload on Flight 162. The mission successfully lofted the Indian Space Research Organisation's INSAT 3E telecommunications/video broadcast satellite, the e-BIRD broadband services platform for Europe’s Eutelsat and the SMART-1 lunar probe for the European Space Agency.


  • August 28 – Flight 155 orbits telecom and weather satellites on Ariane 5's 13th launch, demonstrating the launcher's capability to pair up all types of satellites on a single mission. The Ariane 5's payload consisted of the Atlantic BirdTM 1 telecommunications satellite built by Alenia Spazio for EUTELSAT, and the MSG-1 weather satellite for the European Meteorological Satellite (EUMETSAT) organization.
  • February 28 – On Flight 145, an Ariane 5 places the European Space Agency's Envisat into a highly accurate Sun-synchronous orbit on a record-setting mission. The 8,000-kg. Envisat was the largest satellite ever built in Europe, the heaviest payload carried by an Ariane, and it used the longest fairing available for Ariane 5.


  • November 15 – On a single mission, Ariane 5 lofts the PAS-1R and three auxiliary payloads on Flight 135, setting a new record by placing 6,313 kg. into orbit.
  • June 7 – The largest launch services contract in the history of Europe's space industry is signed by the European Space Agency with Arianespace for nine firm Ariane 5 flights to carry the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV).


  • December 10 – Ariane 5 becomes the first new-generation heavy-lift launcher to enter commercial service with the successful Flight 119/AR 504 mission. The launcher placed its XMM X -ray observatory satellite into an accurate elliptical orbit.
  • July 20 – Arianespace orders 20 Ariane 5 launchers in the P2 production batch, adding to the 14 previously contracted during 1995 for the first production batch.
  • March 30 – Launch campaign begins for Flight 504 – Arianespace's first Ariane 5 commercial flight.


  • October 21 – Ariane 5 is ready for operational service after the mission success on its third qualification flight. The launcher carries the Atmospheric Reentry Demonstrator and Maqsat 3 payloads.


  • November 25 – An agreement officially transferring the management, maintenance and operation of Ariane 5's ELA3 launch facility from the European Space Agency to Arianespace.
  • October 30 – Ariane 5's second test flight succeeds.


  • June 4 – The Ariane 5 501 test flight fails.
  • February 27 – Acceptance of the Vulcain engine for the first Ariane 5 flight (the 501 mission).


  • October 18-20 – The ESA Council meets at the ministerial level in Toulouse, France. Go-ahead is given for the Ariane 5 evolution program that will increase the launcher's lift capability to geostationary transfer orbit to 7,400 kg. (16,309 lb.) in a dual- launch configuration by the year 2003. The meeting also approves the ATRA 5 technology program for Ariane 5, as well as the Ariane 5 infrastructure program to maintain and improve production and launch facilities.
  • June 12 – Arianespace places order with industry for 14 Ariane 5s.
  • June 1 – First development test of a complete Ariane 5 cryogenic stage.
  • March 19 – First qualification static test firing of an Ariane 5 solid booster.


  • November 17 – First test firing of a Vulcain main engine installed on the battleship test stand.
  • October 5 – Static test firing of the Aestus upper stage engine for 1,075 sec.
  • February – Ariane 5's critical design review completed.


  • June 25 – First test static firing of the solid rocket booster using the nominal motor structure.
  • Early 1993 – Dynamic testing begins on the main cryogenic stage for Ariane.
  • February 16 – First full-scale test firing of Ariane 5's full-scale solid booster at the Guiana Space Center. The static test uses a booster with reinforced "battleship" structure.


  • October 24 – The solid propellant production facility for Ariane 5's solid rocket motors opens at the Guiana Space Center.


  • July – First test firing of a Vulcain cryogenic main engine at Vernon, France.


  • June 18 – The Ariane 4 makes its first flight.


  • November 9/10 – ESA member nations agree to proceed with the Ariane 5's development program.


  • January 31 – The European Space Agency's (ESA) Council meets at the ministerial level in Rome, and a decision in principle is taken to proceed with the Ariane 5's preparatory program.
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