The first Ariane-5 launch took place on Tuesday, 4 June 1996, from the Guiana Space Centre, Europe's Spaceport, at Kourou in French Guiana. The launcher was carrying the European Space Agency's four Cluster satellites, a science mission to study Earth-Sun interactions.
In an impressive show of confidence, Ariane-5 has been entrusted with a singularly prestigious mission for its maiden flight, now expected to be at the end of this month. The new heavy launch vehicle will have the task of placing a payload of exceptional scientific value in orbit: the Cluster* quartet built by ESA to make a detailed study of the fraught relations between the Sun and Earth.
At the end of 1995, Cluster, an ambitious European Space Agency science project using four identical spacecraft to study the Earth's magnetosphere, will be launched from Europe's spaceport in Kourou by the first Ariane 5 launcher.