The development program began in 1983 and the first successful launch was on June 15, 1988. The system has become the basis for European satellite launch with 104 successful missions and only three launcher failures. The Ariane 4 provided a payload increase from 1700 kg for the Ariane 3 to a maximum of 4800 kg to geostationary transfer orbit (GTO, the record for a Ariane 4 to GTO was 4946 kg).
The rocket was used in a number of variants, it could be fitted with two or four additional solid or liquid fuelled booster rocketss. The launcher included a satellite payload carrier system called Spelda (Structure Porteuse Externe pour Lancements Doubles Ariane) for launching more than one satellite at a time.
The Ariane 4 AR 40 was the basic version, with three stages, 58.4 metres high, a diameter of 3.8 metres, a liftoff mass of 245 tonnes and a maximum payload of 2100 kg to GTO or 5000kg to Low Earth orbit (LEO). Main power was from four Viking 5 motors each producing 667 kN of thrust, the second stage had a single Viking motor and the third stage had a HM7 liquid oxygen/liquid helium motor. The AR 44L with maximimum additional boost of four solid fuel rocket strap-ons was four stage, weighed 470 tonnes and could transfer a payload of 4730 kg to GTO or 7600 kg to LEO.
|AR 42P||December 1, 1994|
|AR 44L||February 22, 1990|
|AR 44LP||January 24, 1994|
The Ariane 4 have accomplish more than 100 flights with a succes rate of more than 96%.