The launch of an Ariane rocket is an unforgettable event; the explosion of sound, the unfaltering ascent, the brightly lit Guianese sky.
Over the past 40 years, these launches have set off some of the world’s most outstanding space missions – spanning space exploration, Earth observation, environmental monitoring, telecommunications, and even supporting the International Space Station.
Significantly, on 25 September 2018 thousands gathered as the Ariane 5 placed two telecommunications satellites into orbit – marking its 100th launch.
The Ariane 5 was the first of the family led by Airbus, and has become the world’s most reliable launcher, creating a hugely proud moment for Airbus pioneers.
On Christmas Eve 1979, the Ariane 1 launched from French Guyana, finally providing Europe with its own access to space. It no longer had to rely on the use of American launch capacity.
As the Ariane launcher celebrates its 40th Anniversary, see why the excitement of an Ariane launch has stood the test of time…
“It was an overwhelming moment. When I saw the rocket rise, I couldn’t help but punch the air!”
Allan Wild has worked at Airbus Defence & Space for over fifty years.
He remembers the moment he was invited to French Guyana to see one of the satellites he had managed being launched on an Ariane rocket he had also helped to design.
“We saw the engine light up, followed by a vast flame deflected by the flame bucket.
“The difference in speed between light and sound meant that the noise was delayed, but when it arrived it was intense! At 164 decibels, the sound levels of a launch are equivalent to a multitude of Concordes taking off side by side.
"I couldn't help but punch the air!"
The Ariane programme brings together the best of thirteen countries’* space programmes, the knowledge of the European Space Agency and CNES.
Together, they provide a European solution for an expanding global market.
The Ariane launchers have grown to feed the explosion of commercial space missions, increasing their payload capacity to match demand in telecommunications and beyond.
Over 200 satellite missions have been launched by Ariane, with the best success rate in the worldwide market.
And that progress continues, as the next step in space pioneering – Ariane 6 – is due to launch in 2020.
It will provide a versatile and efficient solution to carry the next generation of satellites, as well as scientific missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond.
* The thirteen states participating in the Ariane programme are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
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