The Ariane 5 missile: The flight of the VA-256, is ready for launch in December 2021. Inside, the rocket contains the James Webb Space Telescope, which then successfully put it into orbit around the Earth. For an earlier article on the James Webb Space Telescope, see here.

Ariane 5 is a European Space Agency (ESA) rocket. It had about 82 successful launches between 2003 and 2017. Its purpose was to place satellites in orbits around the Earth.

In April 2023 it launched the JUICE satellite to Jupiter. After this satellite, Ariane 5 was retired and handed over to the new Ariane 6 satellite, which we hope will be as worthy as its predecessor.

Notable Ariane 5 rocket launches are as follows:

1. 1996, Cluster I, rocket 501.

It failed, and the rocket exploded seconds after launch.

Ariane 5 carried 4 satellites that would orbit the earth to study the Sun’s magnetic field in 3 dimensions and how the solar wind affects the earth. We know very well that particles emitted by the Sun create the northern lights, and the aurora australis.

Unfortunately, Ariane 5 flight 501 failed.

The satellite was rebuilt and Cluster II was successfully launched in 2004 by a Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

2. 1999, XMM-Newton, rocket 504.

XMM-Newton is a satellite that observes astronomical X-ray sources. It was originally designed to last only 10 years. At this time (2024) it has been decided to keep it alive until 2026.

Among the astronomical sources he observed were galaxy clusters, featured in a story by the YES team.

The XMM-Newton launch from French Guiana is shown in the following video:

3. 2002, Envisat, rocket 511

Envisat was a large earth-observing satellite. It has been inactive since 2012. It still orbits the Earth and is considered one of the ‘space’ junks orbiting the Earth. Its dimensions are (23 x 10 x 5) meters. While active, it helped study atmospheric chemistry, ozone depletion, ocean biology, ocean temperatures, and more.

4. 2004, Rosetta, rocket 518

Rosetta left Earth in 2004 for a rendezvous with Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko (67P). About 10 years it took its journey to go to its appointment!

It reached its appointment in 2014. It dropped a box with the Greek name ‘philae’ (‘friend’) onto the comet.

The Greek composer Vangelis deified this meeting with his creation:

The previous video shows Rosetta’s entire journey to the comet and the placement of the ‘friend’.

5. 2009, Herschel + Planck, rocket 546

Two satellites were launched simultaneously in 2009 by Ariane 5.

Herschel was the largest space telescope in the infrared until 2021 when the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) was launched. The second satellite launched with Herschel was Planck. It helped the observation of the cosmic background. These observations are essential for building cosmological models that attempt to explain the beginning and end of the universe.

Both satellites lived until 2013.

6. 2018, Bepi Colombo

This mission will study the closest planet to the Sun. It will find the characteristics of Mercury’s magnetic field. It launched in 2018 and will reach Mercury in 2025.
A delightful story of the YES team referring to Ermis and Bepi Colombo can be found here.

8. 2021, James Webb Space Telescope

JWST’s main mirror is compared to the height of humans. The mirror has a diameter of 6.5 meters. It consists of 18 individual small mirrors. All are gold plated.

It is originally designed to live 10 years.

A photo showing how the JWST was packed into the rocket ready for launch is the following:

9. 2023, JUICE

JUICE is the European mission launched in 2023 to Jupiter. It will reach Jupiter around 2031. For more details and a beautiful cocktail in honor of JUICE see our old article.

A remarkable video that deserves your attention is the following:

In this particular video, there is the possibility to insert Greek subtitles. This can only be done on one’s computer.

The countdown, as heard in the video, is in French.