Arianespace has successfully deployed the Azerspace-2/Intelsat-38 and Horizons 3e communication satellites with the launch of their 100th Ariane 5 mission. The European launch provider is set to add three additional missions to the Ariane 5’s launch manifest before the close of 2018.
The Ariane 5 lifted off from the Guiana Space Centre in French Guiana with its dual payload at 22:38 UTC (19:38 local time) on September 25, 2018. Approximately 18 minutes after liftoff, the Horizons 3e satellite was deployed into its geostationary orbit. Following separation of the SYLDA payload dispenser, the Azerspace-2/Intelsat-38 satellite was successfully separated from the Ariane 5 upper stage into its own geostationary orbit.
Ariane 5: Europe’s Workhorse
The Ariane 5 was launched for the first time on June 4, 1996, in its G configuration. Since then, the Arianespace rocket has been launched a total of 100 times suffering 3 partial failures and 2 complete failures.
Over more than two decades of service, the Ariane 5 outclassed vehicles from significantly bigger operators time and time again. In 2006, the rocket set a new commercial payload record lifting 8.2 tonnes of cargo. A year later, it bested its own record twice with the launch of 9.4 and 9.535-ton payloads.
Currently, the rocket is launched in its upgraded ES and ECA configurations with the G, G+ and GS variants all since being retired. Although an upgraded ME variant had been proposed, funding for development was diverted to the Ariane 6. The first launch of the next-generation Ariane launch vehicle is only scheduled for 2020. Expecting some overlap following the Ariane 6 entering service, it is likely we’ll be enjoying launches of Western Europe’s most celebrated launch vehicle for a few more years.