- The Ariane 5 launcher has just completed its 82nd consecutive successful launch, placing four new European Galileo navigation satellites in orbit
- The success of this mission once again demonstrates the flexibility of the ES version of Ariane 5, the upper stage of which is powered by the re-ignitable Aestus engine
- Another four Galileo satellites will be launched by Ariane 5 in 2018, before Ariane 6 takes over at the end of 2020
The European Ariane 5 launcher successfully completed its 82nd consecutive launch, once again bettering its own all-time record.
With this launch number 240 from the European spaceport in Kourou (French Guiana), Ariane 5 has once again demonstrated its flexibility and adaptability, successfully placing four satellites in orbit for the European navigation satellite constellation Galileo. The launch was carried out by an Ariane 5 ES version, which has an upper stage powered by the re-ignitable Aestus engine, already successfully deployed for the launches of all five European ATV space freighters, and for the launch of four previous Galileo satellites in November 2016.
The launch performance of this Ariane 5 ES was 3283 kg (including 2855 kg for the satellites) to a circular orbit at an altitude of 22922 km - four satellites of around 714kg each. A 428-kg dispenser system, specially developed and built by ArianeGroup for the Galileo launches, was used for orbit injection of the satellites.
"2017 has been a perfect year for Ariane 5, which has beaten its own record with its 82nd consecutive successful launch since 2003. These four new Galileo satellites put into orbit testify once again to the unparalleled reliability of Ariane 5, which has already benefited the development of Ariane 6. I would like to thank ESA and the European Commission for having entrusted our subsidiary Arianespace with this emblematic mission, and to be the first to have decided to get on board Ariane 6, entrusting it with the launch of the next Galileo satellites from 2020," said Alain Charmeau, CEO of ArianeGroup.
Ariane 5 ES will launch four more Galileo satellites in 2018, before being replaced by Ariane 6. Two twin-booster Ariane 62s, equipped with the re-ignitable Vinci engine, will place four new satellites in orbit between the end of 2020 and mid-2021. This decision was made official in a contract signed last September by Arianespace and ESA, on behalf of the European Commission (DG GROW) and the European Union.
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, one with an optimized lifetime, or, as is the case with this launch, several satellites into medium earth orbit.
As the industrial lead contractor for development and operation of the Ariane 5 and Ariane 6 launchers, ArianeGroup coordinates an industrial network of more than 600 companies in 13 European countries, including more than 350 Small and Medium Enterprises. ArianeGroup oversees all industrial activities, from the performance improvements and studies necessary for Ariane 5 up to its production, the provision of data or software specific to each mission, as well as marketing activities via Arianespace. This chain includes equipment and structures, engine manufacturing, integration of the various stages, and finally launcher integration in French Guiana.