Ariane 4

The Ariane 4 was a European expendable space launch system, developed by the Centre national d'études spatiales (CNES), the French space agency, for the European Space Agency (ESA). It was manufactured by ArianeGroup and marketed by Arianespace. Since its first flight on 15 June 1988 until the final flight on 15 February 2003, it attained 113 successful launches out of 116 total launches.

Ariane 4
The 52nd Ariane 4 carrying TOPEX/Poseidon satellite.
FunctionExpendable launch vehicle
Country of originEurope
Height58.72 m (192.7 ft)
Diameter3.8 m (12 ft)
Mass240,000–470,000 kg (530,000–1,040,000 lb)
Payload to LEO[altitude and inclination needed]
Mass5,000–7,600 kg (11,000–16,800 lb)
Payload to GTO
Mass2,000–4,300 kg (4,400–9,500 lb)
Launch history
Launch sitesKourou, ELA-2
Total launches116
(40: 7, 42P: 15, 42L: 13)
(44P: 15, 44LP: 26, 44L: 40)
(40: 7, 42P: 14, 42L: 13)
(44P: 15, 44LP: 25, 44L: 39)
Failure(s)3 (42P: 1, 44L: 1, 44LP: 1)
First flight
  • 40: 22 January 1990
  • 42P: 20 November 1990
  • 42L: 12 May 1993
  • 44P: 4 April 1991
  • 44LP: 15 June 1988
  • 44L: 5 June 1989
Last flight
  • 40: 3 December 1999
  • 42P: 4 May 2002
  • 42L: 23 January 2002
  • 44P: 25 September 2001
  • 44LP: 27 November 2001
  • 44L: 15 February 2003
Boosters (Ariane 42L, 44LP or 44L) – PAL
No. boosters0, 2 or 4
EnginesViking 6
Thrust752.003 kN
Specific impulse278 seconds
Burn time142 seconds
PropellantN2O4 / UDMH
Boosters (Ariane 42P, 44LP or 44P) – PAP
No. boosters0, 2 or 4
Thrust650 kN
Burn time33 seconds
PropellantCTPB 1613
First stage – L220
Engines4 Viking 5C
Thrust3,034.1 kN
Specific impulse278 seconds
Burn time205 seconds
PropellantN2O4 / UDMH
Second stage – L33
Engines1 Viking 4B
Thrust720.965 kN
Specific impulse296 seconds
Burn time132 seconds
PropellantN2O4 / UDMH
Third stage – H10
Engines1 HM7-B
Thrust62.703 kN
Specific impulse446 seconds
Burn time759 seconds
PropellantLH2 / LOX

In 1982, the Ariane 4 program was approved by ESA. Drawing heavily upon the preceding Ariane 3, it was designed to provide a launcher capable of delivering heavier payloads and at a lower cost per kilogram than the earlier members of the Ariane family. The Ariane 4 was principally an evolution of the existing technologies used, as opposed to being revolutionary in its design ethos; this approach quickly gained the backing of most ESA members, who funded and participated in its development and operation. Capable of being equipped with a wide variety of strap-on boosters, the Ariane 4 gained a reputation for being an extremely versatile launcher.

Once in service, the launcher soon became recognized for being ideal for launching communications and Earth observation satellites, as well as those used for scientific research. During its working life, the Ariane 4 managed to capture 50% of the market in launching commercial satellites, soundly demonstrating Europe's ability to compete in the commercial launch sector.[2] In February 2003, the final Ariane 4 was launched; Arianespace had decided to retire the type in favour of the newer and larger Ariane 5, which effectively replaced it in service.