Ariane 1

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Ariane 1
Ariane 1 Le Bourget FRA 001.jpg
Ariane 1 mock-up (Photo taken at Musée de l'Air et de l'Espace, Le Bourget, France)
Function Medium lift launch vehicle
Manufacturer Aérospatiale
Country of origin European Space Agency
Height50 m (164 ft)
Diameter3.8 m (12.4 ft)
Mass207,200 kg (456,700 lb)
Payload to LEO 1,400 kilograms (3,100 lb)
Payload to
1,850 kilograms (4,080 lb)
Launch history
Launch sites ELA-1, Guiana Space Centre
Total launches11
First flight24 December 1979
Last flight22 February 1986
Notable payloads Giotto
First stage
Engines4 Viking-2
Thrust2,771.940 kN (623,157 lbf)
Specific impulse 281 seconds
Burn time145 seconds
Fuel UDMH/N2O4
Second stage
Engines1 Viking-4
Thrust720.965 kN (162,079 lbf)
Specific impulse 296 seconds
Burn time132 seconds
Fuel UDMH/N2O4
Third stage
Engines1 HM7-A
Thrust61.674 kN (13,865 lbf)
Specific impulse 443 seconds
Burn time563 seconds
Fuel LH2/LOX
Fourth stage
Engines1 Mage 1
Thrust19.397 kN (4,361 lbf)
Specific impulse 295 seconds
Burn time50 seconds
Fuel HTPB (solid)

Ariane 1 was the first rocket in the Ariane family of expendable launch systems. It was developed and operated by the European Space Agency (ESA), which had been formed in 1973, the same year that development of the launch had commenced.

Ariane (rocket family) european rocket family

Ariane is a series of a European civilian expendable launch vehicles for space launch use. The name comes from the French spelling of the mythological character Ariadne. France first proposed the Ariane project and it was officially agreed upon at the end of 1973 after discussions between France, Germany and the UK. The project was Western Europe's second attempt to develop its own launcher following the unsuccessful Europa project. The Ariane project was code-named L3S.

Expendable launch system launch system that uses an expendable launch vehicle

An expendable launch vehicle (ELV) is a launch system or launch vehicle stage that is used only once to carry a payload into space. Historically, satellites and human spacecraft were launched mainly using expendable launchers. ELV advantages include cost savings through mass production, and a greater payload fraction.

European Space Agency intergovernmental organisation dedicated to the exploration of space

The European Space Agency is an intergovernmental organisation of 22 member states dedicated to the exploration of space. Established in 1975 and headquartered in Paris, France, ESA has a worldwide staff of about 2,200 in 2018 and an annual budget of about €5.72 billion in 2019.


Ariane 1 was the first launcher to be developed with the primary purpose of sending commercial satellites into geosynchronous orbit. Crucially, it was designed with the ability of sending a pair of satellites into orbit on a single launcher, thus reducing costs. As the size of satellites grew, Ariane 1 quickly gave way to the more powerful Ariane 2 and Ariane 3 launchers, which were heavily based upon the original rocket. [1] The Ariane 4 was the last rocket to heavily draw upon the Ariane 1, as the successive Ariane 5 having been developed using a far greater level of all-new elements.

Geosynchronous orbit satellite orbit keeping the satellite at a fixed longitude above the equator

A geosynchronous orbit is an orbit around Earth of a satellite with an orbital period that matches Earth's rotation on its axis, which takes one sidereal day. The synchronization of rotation and orbital period means that, for an observer on Earth's surface, an object in geosynchronous orbit returns to exactly the same position in the sky after a period of one sidereal day. Over the course of a day, the object's position in the sky traces out a path, typically in a figure-8 form, whose precise characteristics depend on the orbit's inclination and eccentricity. Satellites are typically launched in an eastward direction. A geosynchronous orbit is 35,786 km (22,236 mi) above the Earth's surface. Those closer to Earth orbit faster than Earth rotates, so from Earth, they appear to move eastward while those that orbit beyond geosynchronous distances appear to move westward.

Ariane 2 was a European expendable carrier rocket, which was used for six launches between 1986 and 1989. It was a member of the Ariane family of rockets, and was produced by Aérospatiale in France.

Ariane 3 was a European expendable carrier rocket, which was used for eleven launches between 1984 and 1989. It was a member of the Ariane family of rockets, derived from the Ariane 2, although it flew before this. It was designed by the Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales, and produced by Aérospatiale in France.



In 1973, eleven European countries decided to pursue joint collaboration in the field of space exploration and formed a new pan-national organisation to undertake this mission, the European Space Agency (ESA). [2] For some time prior to the ESA's formation, France had been lobbying for the development of a new European expendable launch system to serve as a replacement for the Europa rocket; one proposed successor in the form of a refined Europa, referred to as the Europa IIIB, was studied but was found to be too ambitious and costly. [3] As a result, the Europa IIIB proposal was scaled back and soon reemerged as the L3S. Multinational effort became a quick focus point for the L3S proposal; early on, emphasis was placed upon cooperation on the initiative between Germany and France, while increasing contribution from other countries also came into the picture over time. [3]

France Republic with mainland in Europe and numerous oversea territories

France, officially the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.

Europa (rocket) rocket family

The Europa rocket was an early expendable launch system of the European Launcher Development Organisation (ELDO), which was the precursor to the European Space Agency (ESA). It was developed with the aim to delivering space access technology, and more specifically to facilitate the deployment of European-wide telecommunication and meteorological satellites into orbit.

Germany Federal parliamentary republic in central-western Europe

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north, and the Alps to the south. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, and Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands to the west.

In January 1973, Willy Brandt, the Chancellor of Germany, formally agreed to the L3S project following a series of personal approaches by Georges Pompidou, the President of France. [3] On 21 September 1973, the legal agreement for the L3S, was signed. Under this agreement, the Europa III was formally cancelled, while the L3S would be developed as a multinational project. From the onset, the launcher was to be developed for the purpose of sending commercial satellites into geosynchronous orbit, unlike many other competing launchers, which had been typically developed for other purposes and subsequently adapted, such as ballistic missiles. [4] Development of L3S was seen as a crucial test for the ESA, the fortunes of the former being viewed as being highly indicative for the future of the latter. [5] According to author Brian Harvey, L3S was "one of the major European engineering projects in the last quarter of the century". [6]

Willy Brandt German social-democratic politician; Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany

Willy Brandt was a German statesman who was leader of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) from 1964 to 1987 and served as Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany from 1969 to 1974. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1971 for his efforts to strengthen cooperation in western Europe through the EEC and to achieve reconciliation between West Germany and the countries of Eastern Europe. He was the first Social Democrat chancellor since 1930.

Chancellor of Germany Head of government of Germany

The title Chancellor has designated different offices in the history of Germany. It is currently used for the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, the head of government of Germany.

Georges Pompidou President of France

Georges Jean Raymond Pompidou was Prime Minister of France from 1962 to 1968—the longest tenure in the position's history—and later President of the French Republic from 1969 until his death in 1974. He had long been a top aide to president Charles de Gaulle. As president, he was a moderate conservative who repaired France's relationship with the United States and maintained positive relations with the newly independent former colonies in Africa.

France was the largest stakeholder in the L3S programme; French aerospace manufacturer Aérospatiale served as the prime contractor and held responsibility for performing the integration of all sections of the vehicle, while French engine manufacturer Société Européenne de Propulsion (SEP) provided both the first and second stage engines (the third stage engines were produced by Air Liquide and German aerospace manufacturer MBB). Other major companies involved included the French electronics firm Matra, Swedish manufacturer Volvo, and German aircraft producer Dornier Flugzeugwerke. [7] The United Kingdom, which held a stake of 2.47 per cent in the project, provided the guidance system, developed by Ferranti, and the central digital computer, from Marconi; British Aerospace had later involvement and workshare as well. Early on, it was felt that the L3S designation lacked public appeal; out of several alternative names, including Phoenix, Lyra, Ganymede and Vega, French minister of industrial and scientific development Jean Charbonnel  [ fr ] chose the name Ariane for the new launcher. [7]

Aerospace manufacturer company involved in manufacturing aircraft, aircraft parts, missiles, rockets, and/or spacecraft

An aerospace manufacturer is a company or individual involved in the various aspects of designing, building, testing, selling, and maintaining aircraft, aircraft parts, missiles, rockets, or spacecraft. Aerospace is a high technology industry.

Aérospatiale, sometimes styled Aerospatiale, was a French state-owned aerospace manufacturer that built both civilian and military aircraft, rockets and satellites. It was originally known as Société nationale industrielle aérospatiale (SNIAS). Its head office was in the 16th arrondissement of Paris. The name was changed to Aerospatiale during 1970.

Air Liquide French multinational company which supplies industrial gases and services

Air Liquide S.A., is a French multinational company which supplies industrial gases and services to various industries including medical, chemical and electronic manufacturers. Founded in 1902, it is the world's largest supplier of industrial gases by revenues and has operations in over 80 countries. It has headquarters at the 7th arrondissement of Paris, France. Air Liquide owned the patent for Aqua-Lung until it expired.


During mid-1974, work on the Ariane was temporarily suspended as a result of the substantial cost involved; several other French space projects has incurred delays or funding shortages due to the ongoing development, which had led to disruption and greater funding being made available by the French government to their national space agency, the Centre national d'études spatiales (CNES). [6] Development of the third stage was a major focus point for the project - prior to Ariane, only the United States had ever flown a launcher that utilised hydrogen-powered upper stages". During 1977 and 1978, preparations and testing commenced in anticipation of the first Ariane launch; while some issues were encountered during ground tests and engine firings, these had resulted in no meaningful delays and these milestones had been successfully passed. [8] The ESA decided that there should be a total of four development flights flown prior to initiating commercial operations; however, vacant space was made available to operators for these flights on the proviso that success was not guaranteed. [7]

CNES French space agency

The National Centre for Space Studies (CNES) is the French government space agency. Its headquarters are located in central Paris and it is under the supervision of the French Ministries of Defence and Research.

United States federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Hydrogen Chemical element with atomic number 1

Hydrogen is a chemical element with symbol H and atomic number 1. With a standard atomic weight of 1.008, hydrogen is the lightest element in the periodic table. Its monatomic form (H) is the most abundant chemical substance in the Universe, constituting roughly 75% of all baryonic mass. Non-remnant stars are mainly composed of hydrogen in the plasma state. The most common isotope of hydrogen, termed protium, has one proton and no neutrons.

In order to accommodate Ariane launches, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana received extensive modifications. [9] The former Europa launch site was re-designated as ELA 1 (Ensemble de Lancement Ariane 1) and was rebuilt with a lowered base and elongated tower. While all Ariane launches would take place from French Guiana, rocket construction would be performed at Aérospatiale's facility in Les Mureaux, Paris. [9] In order to deliver the rocket from the production facility to the launch site, each stage of the Ariane would be shipped on barges down the Seine to Le Havre, where they would be loaded onto an ocean-going vessel and be conveyed across the Atlantic Ocean to Kourou; a combination of roads and railways would transport the components inland to the space center itself. Once fully assembled, the rocket would be moved a short distance to the launch pad itself on a mobile rail-mounted platform and stored within a fully enclosed air conditioned service tower, where the payload would be installed and final checks performed under clean room conditions. [9]

Prior to Ariane's first launch, there was some scepticism, much coming from American and British figures, that the endeavour was an expensive indulgence that could be unnecessary, and rendered uncompetitive, by the upcoming Space Shuttle, a partially reusable launch system that was then under development by NASA. [9] By 1977, there had only been three initial customers lined up for Ariane; however, in December 1977, communications satellite operator Intelsat was persuaded to placed an order for two Intelsat IVs to be launched using Ariane. This was considered a major coup for the programme as Intelsat was viewed as heavily committed to using the rival Space Shuttle launcher for a large number of its satellites at that point. [10] One week later, ESA announced its commitment to a production run of 10 Ariane 1 launchers. [11]

Maiden flight

There was considerable pressure for Ariane to perform its maiden flight prior to end of 1979. [11] It was decided that Ariane should launch on 15 December 1979 and, 38 hours prior the launch, the countdown was initiated; however, a technical issue was encountered in the final hour which led to an abort. Despite fears that the launch would have to be delayed for a month, it was decided to resume the countdown for a second attempt. [11] However, upon the countdown reaching zero, three seconds following engine ignition, the onboard computer decided to cut engine power due to erroneous sensor information indicating that engine pressure had been falling. Another attempt was quickly scheduled for 24 December 1979; this time, the launch was successfully executed and the first Ariane flight was performed, the firing button having been personally pressed by French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing. [11]

For the first flight, designated as L-O1 (Lancement [Launch] 01), the payload consisted of an Aeritalia-built test instrumentation system, known as CAT (Capsule Ariane Technologique), for the purpose of measuring all key stages of the ascent in great detail, such as noise, stress, acceleration, temperature, and pressure; this unit was also designed to simulate a real satellite payload. [10] CAT was successfully placed into an orbit of 202 km by 35,753 km; the successful deployment of this payload indicated the end of the American monopoly on commercial satellite launches. On 26 March 1980, almost immediately after the success of LO-1, CNES and ESA created a new company for the purpose of promoting, marketing, and managing Ariane operations, choosing to name the venture Arianespace. [11]


With lift-off mass of 210,000 kg (460,000 lb), Ariane 1 was able to put in geostationary transfer orbit one satellite or two smaller of a maximal weight of 1,850 kg (4,080 lb). The cost of program is estimated at 2 billion euros.

The Ariane 1 was a four-stage vehicle (fourth stage put satellite from GTO to GEO is usually not counted as part of rocket, because it is included in 1.85 tons of payload). The first stage was equipped with 4 Viking engines developed by the Société Européenne de Propulsion. The second stage had a single Viking engine. The third stage had one LOX/LH2 bipropellant engine capable of a thrust of 7,000 kgf (69 kN). The fourth stage was powered by a single Mage-1 solid rocket booster producing a thrust of 20 kN.

This design was kept in the Ariane series until Ariane 4. [12]


On 24 December 1979, the first Ariane launch, designated as L-O1, was conducted, which was successful. [11] However, in 1980, the second launch, L-O2 ended in a failure shortly after takeoff, which had been caused by a combustion instability that had occurred in one of the Viking first stage engines. [13] The third launch, L-O3 succeeded, which resulted in the orbiting of three separate satellites; the fourth and last qualification launch, L-04, was also a success. However, during the fifth launch, which was the first commercial mission to be performed by Ariane, designated as L5, the rocket ceased functioning after 7 minutes of flight. This failure was traced back to a single turbopump in the third stage that had stopped functioning, and a significant re-design of elements of the third stage was performed as a result. [14]

The failure of the first commercial flight had created a tense atmosphere along with a flurry of criticism being aired about the Ariane programme. [15] Following the completion of a complete review of the programme, on 16 June 1983, the second commercial flight, L6 was successfully launched into orbit. This began a run of successful flight for the launcher, the following 6 flights were all successes. [16] As a result of the repeated successes, orders for the type increased quickly; by early 1984, a total of 27 satellites had been booked for Ariane, which was half of the world market at that time. As a result of the commercial success, after the tenth Ariane mission was flown, the ESA transferred responsibility for Ariane over to Arianespace. [16]

The Giotto mission's spaceprobe was successfully launched on the tenth Ariane 1 mission, V-14, on 2 July 1985. The first SPOT satellite was put into orbit by the eleventh and last launch of Ariane 1 on 22 February 1986. [17] By early 1986, the Ariane 1, along with its Ariane 2 and Ariane 3 derivate, were the dominant launcher on the world market. [16]

Launch history

FlightDateLaunch PadPayloadOutcome#Remarks
L-0124 December 1979 ELA-1 CAT-1 Success1First flight [11]
L-0223 May 1980 ELA-1 Firewheel Subsat-1,2,3,4 Amsat P3A
Failure2Combustion instability in one of the Viking first stage engines [13]
L-0319 June 1981 ELA-1 Meteosat 2
Success[ citation needed ]3
L-0420 December 1981 ELA-1 MARECS 1
Success[ citation needed ]4
L-510 September 1982 ELA-1 MARECS B
Sirio 2
Failure5First commercial launch
The rocket ceased functioning after 7 minutes of flight due to a turbopump failure in the third stage
L-616 June 1983 ELA-1 ECS 1
Amsat P3B (Oscar 10)
L-719 October 1983 ELA-1 Intelsat 507 Success[ citation needed ]7
L-85 February 1984 ELA-1 Intelsat 508 Success[ citation needed ]8
V-923 May 1984 ELA-1 Spacenet 1 Success9
V-142 July 1985 ELA-1 Giotto Success10
V-1622 February 1986 ELA-1 SPOT 1
Success11Last flight

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  1. "Ariane 1,2,3". Ariane 1. ESA. 2004-05-04. Retrieved 2009-09-28.
  2. Harvey 2003, pp. 161-162.
  3. 1 2 3 Harvey 2003, p. 161.
  4. Harvey 2003, pp. 161, 166.
  5. Harvey 2003, p. 162.
  6. 1 2 Harvey 2003, p. 165.
  7. 1 2 3 Harvey 2003, p. 166.
  8. Harvey 2003, pp. 165-166.
  9. 1 2 3 4 Harvey 2003, p. 167.
  10. 1 2 Harvey 2003, pp. 167, 169.
  11. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Harvey 2003, p. 169.
  12. "Ariane rocket family". Mark Wade. Astronautix. 2004-05-04. Retrieved 2009-09-28.
  13. 1 2 Harvey 2003, p. 170.
  14. Harvey 2003, p. 171.
  15. Harvey 2003, pp. 171-172.
  16. 1 2 3 Harvey 2003, p. 172.
  17. "Launch History". Ariane 1. Gunter's Space Page. 16 April 2009. Retrieved 28 September 2009.


  • Harvey, Brian. Europe's Space Programme: To Ariane and Beyond. Springer Science & Business Media, 2003. ISBN   1-8523-3722-2.