Initial Operational Capability (IOC):
EUR€114 million (USD$128 million)
Also Known As: A5 ECA and Ariane 5 ECA
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Description: The Ariane launch vehicle family was developed to provide Europe with an independent space access capability. The primary target for the Ariane launcher are commercial satellites. The first Ariane 1 was launched in 1979 and since then Arianespace has strengthened its position becoming the world's leader in commercial launch services. The Ariane 1-3 were based on a three stages configuration comprising the L140 first stage powered by four strap-on Viking V engines, the L33 second stage powered by one Viking IV rocket motor, and the H8 upper stage powered by the HM-7 cryogenic engine.
The Ariane 5 is the most advanced launch vehicle produced by the Arianespace consortium. It has been designed to meet current and future space access requirements for the commercial market. It can accommodate a dual 7,300 kg (16,093 lb) payload carrying it to Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO). The vehicle consists of a main cryogenic core stage that burns for over 600 seconds, two solid booster stages that provide 90% of thrust at the boost phase, and an upper stage. The versatile Ariane 5 launcher is able to deliver payloads to Low Earth Orbit (LEO), Medium Earth Orbit (MEO), GTO, and directly to Geosynchronous Orbit. France officials expects Ariane 5 to remain active until 2010 with about 64 launchers to be built and launched at a rate of 8-10 per year. The first Ariane 5 vehicle was launched in 1996 and failed. The second Ariane 5 was successfully launched in 1997 starting the commercial exploitation of this launch system.
On May 10, 2004, EADS Space Transportation and Arianespace signed a contract for production and delivery of 30 Ariane 5 launchers worth €3 billion ($3.7 billion) at ILA 2004 in Berlin, Germany. The contract is a great significance commitment of European authorities with Ariane 5 launcher and space program. The launchers will be delivered between 2005 and 2010.
In February 2005, ESA launched the first Ariane 5 ECA vehicle from the European spaceport in Kourou, French Guyana. The qualification flight V164 12-Feb-2005 put into orbit the Spanish satellite Xtar-EUR, the model Maqsat-2 and the micro satellite Sloshsat. Ariane 5 ECA or A5 ECA was the newest version of Ariane 5 launch system. The new version is equipped with the Vulcain 2 main engine and a new cryogenic upper stage, dubbed ESC-A. The development of Ariane 5 ECA began in December 2002 following V157 flight, which suffered a mishap resulting in the vehicle self-destruct, many improvements have been implemented on the new vehicle to make it safer and more reliable than the early version introduced in 2002.
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