ESA 30 YearsLaunchesViews used by Exhibitions

The first Ariane 1 lifts off

Credits: ESA/CNES/Arianespace - Service Optique

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The very first Ariane 1 lifts off from the Launch Zone of the Ariane Launch Complex no.1 (ELA-1) at the Guiana Space Centre, Europe's space port, on December 24, 1979. On this maiden flight, the Ariane 1 vehicle successfully lofted a 1,645-kg instrumented payload onto geostationary transfer orbit (GTO). The Ariane 1 vehicle was the first member of the Ariane family of launchers developed by ESA to provide an autonomous access to space for Europe. The Ariane development was decided in 1973 based on initial studies by CNES, the French space agency, which was also delegated the actual development. The design was based on existing elements and proven technologies to ensure maximum reliability. Ariane 1, able to loft 1,880 kg to GTO, was successfully qualified in 1981. And, after a series of promotional flights, it was handed over to Arianespace for industrial production, launch operations and marketing on behalf of ESA. The Ariane 1 version was phased out in 1986 after 11 flights and replaced by the upgraded Ariane 2 and 3 in 1984, and eventually by the Ariane 4 series in 1988. The Ariane 1-4 series was retired in February 2003 after 144 flights, including 116 of Ariane 4, to be replaced by the new Ariane 5 design introduced in 1996.

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