Last launch for Ariane 5

Last launch for Ariane 5

Feature articles |
By Nick Flaherty

Europe’s space launcher, Ariane 5, has taken off for the last time.

The 117th and final Ariane 5 launch, operated by Arianespace, placed two telecommunications satellites in orbit from Kourou, French Guiana: the Heinrich-Hertz-Satellit for the German government and SYRACUSE 4B for the French Armament General Directorate (DGA).

It will be replaced by the long delayed Ariane 6 launcher, which is set for its first flight later in the year. Ariane 6 is currently passing a series of key milestones in Europe and in French Guiana and will carry out its first missions with a rapid production ramp-up.

“This 117th and last Ariane 5 mission is emblematic in several respects. Ariane 5 has just deployed two telecommunications satellites, SYRACUSE 4B and Heinrich-Hertz-Satellit, for France and Germany, the first two contributors to the Ariane program,” said Stéphane Israël, CEO of Arianespace. “This mission is also emblematic of Ariane 5’s ability to perform dual launches, which constitutes the very core of its success, with 197 satellites placed in geostationary orbit out of a total of 239 satellites deployed. Over its career, Ariane 5 has served 65 institutional and commercial customers from 30 countries. Ariane 5’s success heralds a promising career for Ariane 6.”

This was the 347th Launch operated by Arianespace, launching over 1,150 satellites into orbit, taking the Heinrich-Hertz-Mission into orbit. This is the first dedicated German telecommunications satellite-based mission that will be used to conduct research and to test new technologies and telecommunications scenarios.

The technologies on the satellite are meant to support future telecommunications scenarios and to be adapted from Earth to address new technical requirements and market needs. The mission is managed by the German Space Agency on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK) and with the participation of the German Federal Ministry of Defence (BMVg). The Heinrich-Hertz-Satellit was mainly developed and built by OHB System

The SYRACUSE 4B satellite is part of the SYRACUSE IV program carried out under the leadership of the DGA in collaboration with the French Air and Space Force, and for the Space Command (CdE). Together with SYRACUSE 4A, it will enable French armed forces to remain permanently connected when they are deployed on operations. The satellite was developed by Airbus Defence and Space and Thales Alenia Space.

Thes launch also marks the end of the HM7 upper stage engine, which flew on the first Ariane 1 and on the final Ariane 5. It has helped power Ariane launchers 228 times, without ever failing, and will be replaced on Ariane 6 by the re-ignitable Vinci engine.

“Ariane 5 is now taking its place in the annals of global space history. This final successful mission demonstrates once again its supreme reliability in the service of European autonomy and rounds off an exceptional career distinguished by a succession of technological and industrial achievements. I share the emotion of all the employees at ArianeGroup, Arianespace, the French and European space agencies CNES and ESA, and all our European partners, who have contributed to its success over the course of these 27 years,” said Martin Sion, CEO of ArianeGroup.

“Together we are now taking up the challenge of Ariane 6, the beneficiary of the experience acquired with Ariane 5. It will be able to evolve and play a full role in guaranteeing independent, sustainable access to space for Europe, in a context of major strategic, economic and environmental challenges, to meet the needs of its institutional and commercial customers.”

ArianeGroup is the lead contractor for the development and production of the Ariane family of launchers through an industrial network of more than 600 companies, including 350 small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs).


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