Ariane 4 Data Sheet

Ariane 4 Data Sheet

European-developed Ariane 4 was the world’s dominant commercial space launch vehicle from its 1988 debut until its retirement in 2003.  The three-stage expendable flew in six configurations based on the number of solid or liquid strap-on boosters. 

When flown in the Ariane 40 configuration without any boosters, the vehicle could put 2.17 tonnes into geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO).  Two solid boosters (PAP) created an Ariane 42P.  Four solids made an Ariane 44P.  With two liquid boosters (PAL), the rocket become an Ariane 42L.  Two solids and two liquids made an Ariane 44LP.  The most powerful version, Ariane 44L, used four liquid boosters to put 4.79 tonnes into GTO.  

Ariane 4 was the last Ariane powered by Viking-series engines.  Originally developed by France during the 1970s for the never-flown Europa III, Viking engines burned nitrogen tetroxide and unsymmetrical dimethyl hydrazine (UDMH) to produce about 77,000 kgf thrust each in vacuum.  Four Viking 5 engines powered the first stage.  Each liquid booster used a single Viking 6.  The second stage was powered by a single Viking 4.  

The Ariane 4 third stage was powered by an advanced HM7B engine that burned liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen (LOX/LH2) to produce 6,394 kgf thrust during a single 13 minute-long burn.  First developed for Ariane 1 during the late 1970s, HM7 was the first LH2 fueled upper stage engine developed and flown outside the United States.   

Using the Spelda dispenser system, Ariane 4 could orbit two satellites at a time.  This occurred less frequently during the later years as communication satellites grew heavier.

Ariane 4 was launched from Kourou’s ELA-2 launch site.   At ELA-2, Ariane 4 launch vehicles were stacked atop a rail-mobile launch table inside a launcher integration building.  When the vehicle was ready, it was rolled out on about one kilometer of dual-rail track to the ELA-2 launch pad itself.  There, the vehicle was enclosed within a mobile service tower where payloads, already encapsulated within the payload fairing assembly, were added.  The mobile launch table technique allowed more than one launch campaign to proceed at the same time, supporting a nearly once-per-month flight rate during the late 1990s.

Also read: The Road to Ares V – a Short History

Vehicle Configurations

 LEO Payload
(metric tons)
(400 km SSO)
GTO Payload
1500 m/s
to GEO*
(metric tons)
ConfigurationLIftoff Height
Liftoff Mass
(metric tons)
Ariane 403.47 t2.17 tStg 1 (L220) + Stg 2 (L33) +
Stg 3 (H10-3) + VEB + PLF
56.2 m240 t
Ariane 42P4.60 t2.89 tAriane 40 Core + 2xPAP solids56.2 m339 t
Ariane 44P5.44 t3.47 tAriane 40 Core + 4xPAP solids56.2 m358 t
Ariane 42L5.62 t3.59 tAriane 40 Core + 2xL40 boosters56.2 m375 t
Ariane 44LP6.58 t4.29 tAriane 40 Core + 2xPAP solids + 2xL40 boosters56.2 m418 t
Ariane 44L7.45 t4.79 t**Ariane 40 Core + 4xL40 boosters56.2 m470 t

* GEO: Geosynchronous Earth Orbit
** Ariane V113, with special enhancements, boosted 4.95 tonnes to GTO

Also read: Firefly Alpha Data Sheet

Vehicle Components

Liquid Booster
Stg 1 (L220)Stg 2 (L33)Stg 3 (H10-3)
Diameter (m)1.071 m2.15 m3.8 m2.6 m2.6 m
Length (m)11.5 m18.6 m28.4 m11.6 m11.05 m
Propellant Mass (tons)9.5 t39.7 t232 t*35.4 t11.8 t
Total Mass (tons)12.66 t44 t246 t*38.9 t13.5 t
Engine Viking VIViking VViking IVHM7B
OxidizerCTPB 1613, solidN2O4N2O4N2O4LOX
Thrust (sea level)66.28 t (avg)68.83 t275.32 t  
Thrust (vac tons) 76.48 t305.92 t81.58 t6.4 t
ISP (sea level)237.2 s (avg)248 s248.5 s  
ISP (vac sec) 278 s278.4 s293.5 s445.1 s
Burn Time (sec)34 s140 s150-205 s*126 s780 s
No. Engines/Motors11411

Max Stage 1 Propellant Loading, Actual Loads Vary by Vehicle Type as Follows
     Ariane 40:  167 tonnes
     Ariane 42P:  217.2 tonnes
     Ariane 42L:  201 tonnes
     Ariane 44(LorP):  227.1 tonnes

Vehicle Components, Cont’d

 VEBSpelda (Short)Spelda (Long)Short FairingLong Fairing 
Diameter (meters)4.0 m  4 m4 m 
Length (meters)1.0 m  8.6 m9.6 m 
Mass (tons)0.4 t0.33 t0.41 t0.76 t0.89 t 


Ariane 4 User’s Manual, Arianespace, 1999
Airclaims Space Review, May 2003

Last Update:  April 11, 2009

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