Airbus Defence and Space

World record for Ariane 5 - largest communications satellite ever built launched into orbit

Today an Ariane 5G, a 'standard' version of the launcher, successfully launched into orbit the largest communications satellite ever built, Thaicom 4 (IPstar), weighing 6.5 tonnes. "With this successful launch, Ariane 5 has set a world record and once again proved its outstanding performance," said Evert Dudok, President of EADS SPACE Transportation. "We can be proud of this success, which is the result of the great efforts made by all EADS-ST teams and industry partners," said Hugues Laporte-Weywada, Director of Launchers at EADS SPACE Transportation.

Airbus Defence and Space has extensive expertise, unrivalled in Europe, as prime contractor for large-scale space programmes. It has demonstrated its ability to lead a team of companies with the wide range of skills and expertise required to design and develop complex projects such as Ariane 5. In addition, Airbus Defence and Space supplies all elements of the launch vehicle, including the stages, equipment bay and flight software, as well as numerous sub-assemblies.

Ariane 5's solid-propellant boosters (EAPs) are manufactured and integrated by Airbus Defence and Space at the launch site in French Guiana. The EAPs are ignited seven seconds after the main cryogenic stage (EPC) Vulcain engine and burn for about 130 seconds, delivering the main thrust at lift-off of up to 540 tonnes. Airbus Defence and Space's Les Mureaux facility near Paris produces and integrates the EPCs. After jettison of the EAPs at an altitude of about 65 kilometres, the launcher's sole propulsion for a flight phase of 600 seconds is delivered by the Vulcain engine, providing a thrust of about 110 tonnes, the essential part of the impulse needed for insertion into orbit. The thrust chamber of the Vulcain engine was developed by Airbus Defence and Space in Ottobrunn near Munich, as well as the upper stage engine Aestus; the necessary engine tests are also carried out in Germany, at Lampoldshausen near Heilbronn.

Airbus Defence and Space is Europe's centre of competence for the development and construction of Ariane upper stages at its sites in Bremen and Ottobrunn. The upper stage of Ariane 5 is designed to transport a payload to its target orbit following separation from the first stage, after which the upper stage is fully automatic and releases its payload on its way to geostationary orbit at an altitude of 36,000 kilometres. During today's mission, the Thaicom 4 (IPstar) satellite was inserted into transfer orbit at an altitude of 1,896 kilometres.

Airbus Defence and Space is the European specialist for access to space and manned space activities. It develops and produces Ariane launchers, the Columbus laboratory and the ATV cargo carrier for the International Space Station, atmospheric re-entry vehicles, missile systems for France's deterrent force, propulsion systems and space equipment. Airbus Defence and Space is a wholly owned subsidiary of Airbus Defence and Space, which is dedicated to providing civil and defence space systems. In 2004, Airbus Defence and Space had a turnover of €2.6 billion and 11,000 employees in France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Spain. AIRBUS Group is a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2004, AIRBUS Group generated revenues of €31.8 billion and employed a workforce of more than 110,000.


Kirsten Leung (Germany) +49-421-539-5326

Dr. Christian Erles (France) +33-139-06-3253

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