Following a failure series and the abort of the precursor program ELDO, the European Space Agency (ESA) mandated in 1975 the French Space Agency (CNES) with the central management of development and product assurance concerning the new European 3-staged ARIANE-launcher (1 to 4).
On December 24, 1979, the success story started with the first flight of an ARIANE 1 Launcher with a 1,9 t payload ex European Spaceport Courou situated in French Guiana and has continued up to October 13, 2006, 22:56 MEST, with the successful flight 173/L533 of an ARIANE 5 Launcher with the ESC-A-FM007 upper stage tested and integrated in Bremen; payloads were two satellites DIRECTV 95 (Digital Multi-Channel TV-Satellite, USA) and OPTUS D1 DTH (Internet-, Voice-, and Data-Transmission Satellite, Australia) as well as the Scientific Unit LDREX2 (Antenna Reflector).
On October 23, 1998, with the successful completion of the third qualification flight A503 and a 5,7 t payload expandable to 10 t up to the year 2008, the completely newly-developed modern 2-stage ARIANE-5-Launcher with two additional lateral solid boosters proved itself as a successor to the technically exhausted ARIANE 4 Launcher. On December 10, 1999, the first commercial ARIANE 5 Flight A504 succeeded in placing very precisely the scientific ESA-XXM-satellite with a 4 t payload in orbit.
In total and including the ARIANE 5 development phase, 26 A5 flights (3 aborted missions) have been carried out until now. This is a positive interim balance regarding the great technological challenge.