Did you know Europe developed one of the world’s most reliable “space taxis”?

The Ariane 5 was a heavy-lift rocket developed and operated by Arianespace for the European Space Agency (ESA). It was used to launch satellites into orbit and was able to deliver over 20 tonnes (44,000 lbs) to low Earth orbit (LEO) and nearly 11 tonnes (24,250 lbs) to the higher Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO).

Ariane 5’s 'passengers' were mainly satellites from telecommunications customers.

The Ariane 5 built up a reputation as a reliable launch vehicle, having over 90 consecutive successful (including 1 partial success) launches between late 2002 and 2017. NASA trusted the Ariane 5 to launch the US$10 bn James Webb Space Telescope in 2021.

Ariane 5 was retired, and Ariane 6 has been in development since 2014. It is expected to launch in 2024.

The Ariane launchers have been developed by Arianespace, a joint venture between ASD member companies Airbus and Safran.