Two solid rocket boosters provide the majority of thrust off the pad. [credit:
Trevor Mahlmann for ESA and ArianeGroup ]
Last week, an Ariane 5 rocket launched from Europe’s primary spaceport in French Guiana. Normally, such launches garner little attention outside of aerospace circles because they’re typically successful and take place in a pretty remote location—in the jungles of South America.
However, Tuesday’s launch of a pair of communications satellites to geostationary transfer orbit is notable for a couple of reasons. For one, the rocket company Ariane Group, and the European Space Agency invited a talented pair of photographers to capture the Ariane 5 launch in exquisite detail. The fruits of the work by Trevor Mahlmann and John Kraus appear in the photo gallery above.
Arianespace also has (or soon will) reached some notable milestones in the history of its launch program. Last Tuesday’s mission marked the 250th time a member of the Ariane fleet of rockets—there have been five versions, Ariane 1 through 5—has taken flight. Moreover, on December 24, the Ariane family of rockets will celebrate its 40th anniversary.