On February 16th, 2011, Kourou (French Guiana), the Ariane launcher celebrated its 200th flight. It is a highly symbolic step for Air Liquide, historic partner of the European spatial program.
Ariane 5 lifted off successfully on Wednesday, February 16th, from Kourou. Its objective was to send into orbit the second vehicle cargo of the European spatial Agency, the ATV (automated transfer vehicule) "Johannes Kepler". The ATV will dock autonomously with the International Space Station to provide it fuel, spare parts, food and scientific equipments.
Since the creation of Eurospace in 1961, Air Liquide supports Europe in the space conquest, by bringing its skills and its expertise in cryogenics, the science of the very low-temperature. It is into the Avanced Technologies Division and Cryospace (GIE EADS/AIR LIQUIDE) that are designed and manufactured the cryogenic tanks for the Ariane 5 launcher, as well as the associated cryotechnic equipments. Air Liquide supplies the propulsion gases for Ariane and provides the cryogenic launch infrastructures for the launch pads of Kourou, (French Guiana), Tanegashima (Japan) and Merritt Island - Cape Canaveral (USA).
From the first Ariane 1 launch in 1979 to this 200e Ariane 5 launch, Air Liquide never stopped to collaborate on the european space programme.
Beside its partners, Air Liquide always goes further in the space odyssey, and is involved in the major projects of the futur. The Group, in association with Astrium, will participate in the development and the production of the cryogenic tanks for Ariane 5 ME upper stage, and is also a main partner of the HX project, supported by Cnes and dedicated to the development of the next generation launcher.
In the field of orbital cryogenics, the cryogenic technologies developed by Air Liquide contribute to answer to a wide range of needs dedicated to major international space projetcs : providing a cryo-refrigerator for MELFI to freeze and store biological samples, manufacturing two major pieces of equipment for Planck and Herschel satellites which mission is to better understand the formation and evolution of the universe, from the Big Bang to the present day, and finally, cooling infrared detectors and electronic telecommunications sensors with “Stirling” and “pulsed tubes” cryo coolers.