In early 1996 the long-awaited Ariane 5 launch vehicle will begin flight operations in an effort to accommodate larger GEO spacecraft as well as to permit the launch of large man related spacecraft into LEO. Ariane 5 will be somewhat shorter but much broader than its predecessor. The basic launch vehicle consists of a large, liquid-propellant central stage surrounded by two large, solid propellant boosters. The central stage
will be powered by a single Vulcain engine developed by SEP and burning liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen. The booster stages (P230) are the vehicles analogous to the boosters used by the US STS French and are designed to be recovered from the Atlantic Ocean and refurbished. This configuration was sized to place the now-cancelled
22-metric-ton Hermes spaceplane into a low
altitude transfer orbit: 100 km by 460 km, 28.50 degree inclination (References 2, 15-22).
For GTO or other LEO missions, a small
upper stage (L9, formerly L7) burning nitrogen
tetroxide and monomethylhydrazine through a
single Aestus engine will be employed.
Payload capacity for this type of mission varies
from 5.1 to 6.8 metric tons depending upon the
number of payloads carried. Multiple payload
housing systems called SPELTRA (Struck
Porteuse Externe de Lancements Triples
Ariane) can accommodate two or three major
satellites (References 23-24). The L9 stage was
also designed to place the unmanned
Columbus module into LEO.
The principal contractors for Ariane 5 are Aerospatiale (central stage), SEP (Vulcain engine), Europropulsion and Aerospatiale (booster stage and engine), and DASA/ERN0 (upper stage). The first hot test of a reinforced P230 solid booster took place on 16 February 1993, followed by a flight-design booster test on 25 June 1993. Difficulties with the Vulcain engine were resolved in 1993-1994, and the first phase of the development program was completed in late 1994 (References 25-27). Under an ESA contract the Russian Scientific Research Institute for Parachute Making is designing an improved booster stage recovery system which could replace the original ESA system (References 28-30).
After years of testing the Vulcain engine (since 1990), an Ariane 5 first stage non-flight"battleship" (reinforced) configuration was fired for the first time on a pad at the Kourou spacelaunch facility on 17 November 1994. Although several months late, this program milestone demonstrated many key features of the critical Kourou infrastructure necessary for Ariane 5 missions. Meanwhile, the development phase of the L9 upper stage was completed, and Switzerland's Oerlikon-Contraves Space tested the large Ariane launch shroud, both in late 1994 (References 31-34).
Current estimates for Ariane 5 flight rates range from 5-10 per year with some payloads
already tentatively manifested as late as 2007 (e.g., SPOT 5B). As many as 64 Ariane 5 vehicles will be built by the year 2010, and French officials have informally offered to license Ariane 5 technology to the US to meet heavy-lift requirements. Several concepts for improved and larger capacity Ariane 5 variants could keep the basic space transportation system operational for decades. However, enthusiasm within ESA for a massive upgrade program for Ariane, after an initial investment of nearly $7 billion and concerns about launch costs, is not high (References 35-41).
Specific Ariane 5 enhancements, including an improved Vulcain main engine and a change in the ratio and mass of the propellants, represent a near-term improvement which could increase the booster payload capacity to LEO by two metric tons. By combining the new main engine with two additional strap-on boosters, the LEO capacity could be increased by more than seven metric tons. This concept would employ two P130 boosters which are shortened versions of the standard P230 boosters and which would be ignited at altitude to avoid costly pad modifications. Another option includes replacing the small L9 upper stage with a more capable unit, e.g., the L15. To effect a much greater lift capability, preliminary designs envision a significant increase in the size of the central stage which would be equipped with five improved Vulcain engines and would be surrounded by four P230 boosters (References 42-45).
At the other end of the spectrum, ESA is evaluating the need for smaller launch vehicles which would be derived from Ariane 5 components. ESA's Future European Space Transportation Investigations Program (FESTIP) was approved in February 1994 for the period 1994-1996 with eight ESA member states participating. One concept envisions a launch vehicle employing a P230 booster as the main stage with a small solid-propellant second stage to place 5-metric-ton payloads into/LEO. Two other designs, ALD-P and ALD-S (Ariane Light Derivative - Polar and - Sun-synchronous), would be capable of launching payloads of up to 1 or 4 metric tons, respectively. A firm decision to develop a small launch vehicle or not was expected by 1996 (References 46-49).
FESTIP is also continuing ESA's Reusable Rocket Launcher (RRL) studies aimed at applying Ariane 5 technologies to partially or
completely reusable space transportation systems (References 50-51). Designs employing Russian rocket engines (e.g., RD-170) or airborne launch platforms (e.g., An-225) are under consideration as are new ramjet and scramjet technologies.
Ariane 5 (France)
- First Launch:
- May 1996
- Flight Rate:
- Up to 10 per year
- Launch Site:
- ELA-3 (Kourou, French Guiana)
- 39,600 to LEO; 26,400 lb to polar LEO;
15,000 lb to GTO (single payload);
13,160 lb to GTO (dual payload);
- European Space Agency began Ariane 5 development in 1988
- First Ariane flight in December 1979
- Two primary goals of Ariane 5 program are to improve reliability and to lower cost.
- Two-stage vehicle with two strap-on solid boosters
- Stage 1 burns LH2/LO2 in one Vulcain HM60 engine generating a total thrust of 180,000 lb
- Stage 2 burns N2O4/MMH in one L9 engine generating 6,140 lb of thrust
- Two three-segment solid strap-on boosters burn HTPB generating 1,430,000 lb of thrust each
- The thrust profile of the solid boosters is tailored to reduce thrust during maximum dynamic pressure so that the Vulcain HM60 is not required to throttle
- The upper composite section includes the single second-stage engine, an electrical equipment bay, a bearing structure for one, two, or three satellites, and the fairing
- 177 ft (maximum)
- Launch Weight:
- 1,570,000 lb
- 17.7 ft
- Liftoff Thrust:
- 2,560,000 lb
- Payload Fairing:
- 37.9 - 55.8 ft ft x 17.7 ft
2. Reaching For The Skies, BR-42, ESA, 1988.
3. Ariane, "Space Special" by MBB Deutsche Aerospace, May 1991.
4. Ariane, Arianespace, May 1990.
5. "50th Ariane the First of a New Batch", Spaceflight, June 1992, p. 184.
6. P. B. de Selding, "Bigot Announces More Modifications for Ariane Launcher", Space News, 18-24 January 1993,p.8.
7. "New Mission Procedure Proposed To Increase Ariane Performance", Aviation Week and Technology , 29 June 1992, p. 47.
8. P. B. de Selding, "Designers Had Flagged Suspect Ariane Component", Space News, 28 February -6 March 1994, pp. 4, 21.
9. "Arianespace Aware of Bearing Problems," Space, May-June 1994, p. 38.
10. C. Covault, "Launch Failure Grounds Ariane", Aviation Week and Space Technology, 31 January 1994, pp. 27-28.
11. C. Lardier, "Coup d'Arret Apres l'Echec d'Ariane (V70)", Air & Cosmos , 9 December 1994, pp. 38-39.
12. C. Lardier, "Prochain Vol d'Ariane Fin Fevrier", Air & Cosmos , 6 January 1995, p. 62.
13. C. Covault, "Ariane Mission Review Cites Contamination Control", Aviation Week and Space Technology, 2 January 1995, pp. 58-59.
14. C. Covault, "Ariane Flights Halted to Examine Third Stage", Aviation Week and Space Technology, December 1994, pp. 25-26.
15. Ariane 5 Programme, CNES and ESA, November 1990.
16. Ariane 5, Next Generation of Launchers, ESA, undated.
17. P. Donaldson, "Boosting Ariane 5", Space, May 1993, pp. 26-27.
18. H. Holsten, "Development Status of Ariane 5 Upper Stage", Proceedings of the European Forum on Space Transportation Systems, ESA SP-362, March 1994, pp. 27-31.
19. P. Gil and F. Gastaldi,"The Ariane 5 Solid Propellant Motor", Proceedings of the European Forum on Space Transportation Systems, ESA SP-362, March 1994, p. 15-26.
20. M. Desloire et al, "Ariane 5 - A Launcher for the Next Decade", Paper IAF-93-V-1-600, 44th Congress of the International Astronautical Federation, 16-22 October 1993.
21. C. Lardier, "A Un an Du Premier Vol d'Ariane 5", Air and Cosmos, 16 December 1994, pp. 24-25.
22. M. Senechal, "End of the String?", Space, March-April 1995, pp. 16-18.
23. "German Firm Delivers Test Model of Ariane's Speltra", Space News , 12-18 July 1993, p. 10.
24. "Speltra Payload Support Structure", Spaceflight, November 1993, p. 381.
25. "Ariane 5 Booster Firing Postponed", Aviation Week and Space Technology, 25 October 1993, p. 17.
26. P.B. de Selding, "Booster Test Bolsters Confidence in Ariane 5 Schedule", Space News, 27 June - 3 July 1994, p.10.
27. "Arianespace Booster Stage Enters Qualification Testing", Space News, 10-16 October 1994, p. 12.
28. A. Borodulin, "Russian Parachutes Will Save the 'Ariane-5'. Contract Awarded in Preference to British and Americans Affords This Right", Moskovsklye Novosti, 18 July 1993, p. B7
29. M. Chernyshov, "Russian Parachute Makers Under Spanish-Dutch 'Roof"', Secodnya, 28 October 1993, p. 8.
30. "Ariane Managers Plan Recovery System Test", Space News,
27 June - 3 July 1994, p. 2.
31. C. Covault, "Ariane 5 'Battleship' Stage Fires on Kourou Pad", Aviation Week and Space Technology, 28 November 1994, pp. 65-66.
32. C. Covault, "Ariane 5 Engine Invigorates German Rocket Propulsion", Aviation Week and Space Technology, 20 February 1995, pp. 48-49.
33. "Ariane 5 Fairing Passes Ground Separation Test", Aviation Week and Space Technology, 28 November 1994, p. 66.
34. C. Covault, "CNES, Matra Accelerate Spacecraft, Ariane 5 Tests", Aviation Week and Space Technology, 28 November 1994, pp. 22-23.
35. "Arianespace Chief Bigot Projects 50 Year Life for Ariane 5", Space FAX Daily, 30 July 1993, p. 1.
36. P.B. de Selding, "Massive Ariane 5 Order Due", Space News, 9-15 January 1995, pp. 4, 21.
37. J.R. Asker, "Official Urges U.S. to License Ariane 5", Aviation Week and Space Technology, 10 April 1995, p. 66.
38. P.B. de Selding, "Builders Predict Ariane 5 Costs Will Exceed ESA Target", Space News, 8-14 November 1993, p.11.
39. P.B. de Selding, "Europeans to Consider Modifying Ariane 5", Space News, 13-19 June 1994, p.14.
40. P.B. de Selding, "Launcher's Development to Total About $6.7 Billion", Space News, 19-25 December 1994
41. R. Hergott, S. Eury,and C.P. Ransom, "Ariane 5 Evolution", Proceedings of the European Forum on Space
Transportation Systems, ESA SP-362, March 1994, pp. 45-50.
42. I. Parker, "Growing Ariane 5", Space, August-September 1992, pp. 42-43.
43. "France Studies Ariane 5 Derivatives Comprising Family of Launch Vehicles", Aviation Week and Space
Technology,16/23 December 1991, p. 62.
44. "Ariane 5 Studied for Lunar Return", Aviation Week and Space Technology,17 May 1993, p. 35.
45. P. B. de Selding, "French Signal Interest in Polar Orbit Launchers", Space News, 9-15 September 1991, p.26.
46. M. Calabro and D. Jeannot, "Ariane Light Derivatives", Paper IAF 18.104.22.1689, 44th Congress of the International Aeronautical Federation, 16-22 October 1993.
47. J.M. Astorg and C.P. Ransom, "The European Small Launchers", Proceedings of the European Forum on
Space Transportation Systems, ESA SP-362, March 1994, pp. 51-56.
48. P.B. de Selding, "European Firms Urge ESA to Build Small Launchers", Space News, 30 May - 12 June 1994,
49. "Newsmaker Forums", Space News, 19-25 December 1994, p. 22.
50. H.A. Pfeffer, "Actions of ESA to Prepare for Future Space Transportation Systems", Proceedings European Forum on Space Transportation Systems, ESA SP-362, March 1994, pp. 81-86.
51. B. Masse, "Reusable Rocket Launchers with Near Term Technologies", Proceedings of the European Forum on Space Transportation Systems , ESA SP-362, March 1994, pp. 87-94.
Sources and Resources
Implemented by Christina Lindborg, 1997 Scoville Fellow
Maintained by Robert Sherman
Originally created by John Pike
Updated Tuesday, July 1, 1997