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December 22, 2014 - Europe's Workhorse

Europe’s Workhorse Europe’s Ariane family of expendable launch vehicles had its first flight thirty-five years ago this week from the Guyana Space Center in French Guiana, on the northeast coast of South America. The Ariane 1, built by EADS Astrium and Arianespace under contract to the European Space Agency, was a three-stage rocket derived from missile technology. During its operational period from 1979 to 1986 the Ariane 1 was flown successfully nine times. Subsequent versions increased the capability of the Ariane 1 by using improved engines and adding strap-on solid rocket boosters. Shown here is the Ariane 5 ECA, the fifth generation in the Ariane family. Still taking to the skies from the Guyana Space Center, the Ariane 5 can lift payloads ten times as massive as the first Ariane did.

Image credit: ESA / CNES / Arianespace - Optique vidéo du CSG

Weekly Calendar

December 22-28, 2014

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History


Moon phase Monday 22

Uranus appears stationary
Ursid meteor shower

1966: Luna 13 launched
1966: First glide test of the HL-10 lifting body

Moon phase Tuesday 23

Ursid meteor shower

1672: Giovanni Cassini discovers Saturn’s moon Rhea

Moon phase Wednesday 24

Moon at perigee

1968: Apollo 8 enters lunar orbit
1978: Venera 11 lands on Venus
1979: European Space Agency launches first Ariane rocket

Moon phase Thursday 25

Christmas Day

Mars 6° south of Moon

1642: Isaac Newton born
2003: Mars Express and Beagle 2 arrive at Mars
2004: Huygens probe separates from Cassini spacecraft

Moon phase Friday 26

Boxing Day (Canada, U.K., Australia)
First Day of Kwanzaa

Neptune 4° south of Moon

Moon phase Saturday 27

1571: Johannes Kepler born
1984: Meteorite ALH 84001 discovered

Moon phase Sunday 28

First Qtr Moon 1:31 PM ET

1882: Arthur Eddington born

Suggestions for new history dates or better links? Corrections for errors on this page? Please e-mail me.