The Ariane 5 launcher completed its mission from the European space port of Kourou (French Guiana) for the 74th time in a row, thus equaling the record for consecutive successful launches set by Ariane 4, which was in service until 2003. Production of the Ariane 4 launcher was halted, after 74 consecutive successes, giving way to operation of the Ariane 5 launcher.
With this year's 5th launch, Ariane 5 has just equaled the record set by its predecessor Ariane 4 and will remain in service until the Ariane 6 launcher reaches full operational capability in 2023. Ariane 5 will aim to set many more reliability and performance records, pending the service entry of Ariane 6, the first flight of which is scheduled for 2020",declared Alain Charmeau, CEO of Airbus Safran Launchers. "I would like to congratulate the industrial teams who, within Airbus Safran Launchers and before that in the parent companies, have contributed to ensuring the level of expertise needed to maintain the quality and reliability of the Ariane 5 launcher, while implementing a process of permanent improvements since 2002. I also wish to thank Arianespace, ESA and CNES for their trust and support."
In this 74th launch, the performance achieved by this Ariane 5 ECA was 10,663 kg (of which 9,809 kg were accounted for by the satellites).
This launch was also an opportunity to contribute to the development of Ariane 6. Once the commercial mission was completed, the third in a series of experiments was carried out to observe the movement of the residual propellants, by means of numerous sensors and a camera installed in one of the upper stage tanks. This enabled us to gain a clearer understanding of fuel behavior during the long ballistic phases necessary for the new Ariane 6 missions. The results obtained will be analyzed in cooperation with the European Space Agency (ESA) which financed this work.
Airbus Safran Launchers is lead contractor for the Ariane 5 launchers. The company coordinates an industrial network of more than 550 companies in 12 European countries (including more than 100 SMEs). Airbus Safran Launchers oversees the entire industrial chain, from management of launcher performance upgrades, to production management, to final adjustment with supply of the mission flight software. This chain includes equipment and structures, engines manufacturing, integration of the various stages and finally launcher integration in French Guiana.
Ariane 5 is the spearhead of European know-how and one of the most wide-ranging and ambitious space programs in the world. Its flexibility enables it to transport heavy payloads into low Earth orbit, two satellites into geostationary transfer orbit, a single satellite with an optimized lifetime, or several satellites into medium Earth orbit, as it will be accomplishing in its next mission in November 2016.
Airbus Safran Launchers is also industrial lead contractor for Europe's future Ariane 6 launcher, which is scheduled for a first flight in 2020 and which will replace Ariane 5 in about 2023.
The Ariane 231 flight in figures:
- 88th launch of an Ariane 5,
- 58th launch of an Ariane 5 ECA,
- 11th Ariane 5 launch with Airbus Safran Launchers as lead contractor,
- 62nd consecutive success by a launcher fitted with a Vulcain® 2 engine
- 131st consecutive success by a launcher fitted with the HM7B engine