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Ariane is a civil European expendable launch vehicles. Its name come from the French spelling of the mythological Ariadne.

The project was proposed by France in the 1970s. Actually the European Space Agency is responsible for the development of all Ariane launchers and for the testing facilities while Arianespace is the commercial entity responsible for the production, operation and marketing.

The Ariane rockets are launched from Kourou, French Guiana, where the proximity to the equator gives a significant advatage for the launch.

Several version of the launcher have been made:

(1) the first launch on May 30, 1986 was a failure.
(2) the first launch on June 4, 1996 was a failure.

To date (01/2002) 145 Ariane flights have launched 247 satellites, successfully placing 230 in orbit.

Related topics See also: Diamant, Europa rocket

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