Ariane 3

Ariane 3 was a European expendable carrier rocket, which was used for eleven launches between 1984 and 1989. It was a member of the Ariane family of rockets, derived from the Ariane 2, although it flew before this. It was designed by the Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales, and produced by Aérospatiale in France.[1]:214

Ariane 3
FunctionMedium launch vehicle
ManufacturerAérospatiale for
ESA and Arianespace
Height49.13 m (161.2 ft)
Diameter3.8 m (12 ft)
Mass234,000 kg (516,000 lb)[1]:518
Payload to GTO2,700 kg (6,000 lb)
Associated rockets
Launch history
Launch sitesGuiana Space Centre ELA-1
Total launches11[2]
First flight4 August 1984
Last flight12 June 1989
Boosters – SEP P7.35[3]
No. boosters2
Length8.32 m (27.3 ft)
Diameter1.07 m (3 ft 6 in)
Gross mass19.32 tonnes (21.30 tons)
Thrust1,260 kN (280,000 lbf)
Specific impulse2314 N·s/kg
Burn time27s
First stage – L-140[3]
Length19.09 m (62.6 ft)
Diameter3.80 m (12.5 ft)
Gross mass165.89 tonnes (182.86 tons)
EnginesViking 2B
Thrust2,580 kN (580,000 lbf)
Specific impulse2376 N·s/kg
Burn time138s
FuelUH 25 / N2O4
Second stage – L-33[3]
Length11.47 m (37.6 ft)
Diameter2.60 m (8 ft 6 in)
Gross mass39.41 tonnes (43.44 tons)
EnginesViking 4B
Thrust784.8 kN (176,400 lbf) (vacuum)
Specific impulse2851 N·s/kg
Burn time128.9s
FuelUH 25 / N2O4
Third stage – H-10[3]
Length9.89 m (32.4 ft)
Diameter2.60 m (8 ft 6 in)
Gross mass12.74 tonnes (14.04 tons)
Thrust64.2 kN (14,400 lbf)
Specific impulse4336 N·s/kg
Burn time729s
FuelLOX / LH2

The Ariane 3 followed the same basic design as the earlier Ariane 1, but incorporated modifications made for the Ariane 2. Unlike the Ariane 2, two solid-fuelled PAP strap-on booster rockets were used to augment the first stage at liftoff.[3][1]:216–217

The core of the Ariane 3 was essentially an Ariane 2. The first stage was powered by four Viking 2B bipropellant engines, burning UH 25 (25% straight hydrazine, 75% UDMH) in a dinitrogen tetroxide oxidiser. The second stage was powered by a Viking 4B, which used the same fuel-oxidiser combination. The third stage used a cryogenically fuelled HM7B engine, burning liquid hydrogen in liquid oxygen. On some flights, a Mage 2 kick motor was flown as a fourth stage.

Launch history

The Ariane 3 made its maiden flight on 4 August 1984, almost two years before Ariane 2 from which it had been derived, placing the ECS-2 and Télécom 1A satellites into geosynchronous transfer orbit. Eleven were launched with ten successes and one failure. The failure occurred on the fifth flight, launched on 12 September 1985, when the third stage failed to ignite resulting in the rocket failing to achieve orbit. The ECS-3 and Spacenet-3 satellites were lost in the failure.[4][5]

The Ariane 3 was quickly replaced by the more capable Ariane 4, resulting in a comparatively small number of launches. It made its final flight on 12 July 1989, carrying the Olympus F1 satellite.[2][4]


  1. Harvey, Brian (2003). Europe's Space Programme: To Ariane and Beyond. Berlin: Springer-Verlag. ISBN 1852337222.
  2. Krebs, Gunter. "Ariane-3". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 14 June 2015.
  3. "Ariane, Design(1)". Retrieved 13 June 2015.
  4. "Ariane 1-3". Ariane Heritage. Arianespace. Retrieved 13 June 2015.
  5. Wade, Mark. "Ariane". Encyclopedia Astronautica. Archived from the original on 13 June 2015. Retrieved 2009-04-27.

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