On 27 May, an Ariane 5 launcher brought the satellites DirecTV-15 and SKY México-1 into orbit around the earth. The launch is the 65nd success in a row for Ariane 5, the launcher that was built by Airbus Defence and Space Netherlands for launch company ArianeSpace.
Airbus Netherlands have so far delivered 150 engine thrust frames for the Ariane 5: 89 for the main stage and 61 for the second stage. As the main contractor, we signed a contract in May 2014 worth 30 million euros for the delivery of a further 18 engine thrust frames.
Most successful launch vehicle
With its 70 launches, the Ariane 5 launcher has now brought more than 100 satellites into orbit around the earth. This makes it the most successful commercial launch vehicle in the world.
The history of the Ariane started 35 years ago with the first flight of Ariane 1 in 1979. Airbus Netherlands, then still called Fokker Space, has been involved right from the start in the design, development, qualification and building of structural parts for the launchers.
For Ariane 1 to 4 the Leiden company built the interstage and for Ariane 5 the engine thrust frames for the first and second stages. Airbus Netherlands has developed the complex, lightweight structures for Ariane 5 since 1991 in collaboration with Fokker in Hoogeveen.
The engine thrust frame is one of the most complex structure parts of the Ariane 5 launcher. The launch motor and associated equipment are hung on the structure, which is subjected to considerable structural, thermal and acoustic stresses but must still be as light as possible. The frame is made of high quality aluminium, contains more than 2000 components and weighs 2000 kilograms.
The power of the launch engine is more than 100 times greater than its own weight. Within just nine minutes of the launch, the Ariane 5 launcher reaches its maximum speed of 25,000 km per hour; a speed that would bring you from Amsterdam to Paris in just 100 seconds.