Happy Birthday Ariane

I missed this, the ESA put out the video on their YouTube chan­nel before Christmas, but if I keep quiet about that maybe no one will notice. Ariane is now 30 years old.

ESA cel­eb­rates 30 years of Ariane.

The first Ariane launched from Kourou in French Guiana on Christmas Eve 1979. The Kourou site sounds like a con­veni­ent a trop­ical jungle remote from ESA headquar­ters. However, as Alice Gorman has found, not every­one finds it exot­ic­ally dis­tant.

Ariane could also be con­sidered an American suc­cess story too. The reason the French and Germans needed to build it was that Richard Nixon pre­ven­ted the com­mer­cial use of European satel­lites launched on US Delta rock­ets. That forced Europe into build­ing its own inde­pend­ent rocket which now it one of the most com­mer­cially suc­cess­ful launch­ers. You can read more about Ariane on Jonathan Amos’s blog Spaceman, which I’ve just dis­covered, or more about Kourou on Alice Gorman’s blog Space Age Archaeology.


When he's not tired, fixing his car or caught in train delays, Alun Salt works part-time for the Annals of Botany weblog. His PhD was in ancient science at the University of Leicester, but he doesn't know Richard III.