On 21 May 2010 at 19:01 local time (22 May, 00:01 Central European Time), the 50th Ariane 5 launcher – of type ECA (Evolution Cryotechnique type A) – lifted off on schedule from Europe's Spaceport at Kourou in French Guiana.
The payload for this mission comprised the Astra 3B commercial telecommunication satellite and the second communications satellite for the German armed forces (Bundeswehr), COMSATBw-2. The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) is responsible for the orbital positioning and flight operations of this satellite, and has also been involved in a range of comprehensive propulsion unit tests which have played a significant role in the success story of the Ariane launch vehicles. This flight, V194, was the first Ariane flight of 2010, the 50th liftoff of an Ariane 5 and the 194th mission for the Ariane family of launchers. The first successful launch of an Ariane 5 took place on 21 October 1998. The ECA variant is the most recent addition to the Ariane 5 family of five configurations. A sixth version is planned: in the Ariane 5 ECB (Evolution Cryotechnique type B) the new upper stage with the Vinci cryogenic engine will be used. This will increase the maximum geostationary transfer orbit payload mass to twelve tons.