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Ariane 5 like you’ve never seen it before 12-17-2019 |  4 minutes

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Thought you knew what a launch looks like? Think again.

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Ariane has been captivating imaginations in Europe for 40 years now, with each launch a sublime manifestation of power and beauty. ArianeGroup took the occasion of its latest flight – the 250th launch of an Ariane rocket – to invite a talented pair of young photographers to get up close and personal with Ariane as never before.

Lots of European journalists and photographers have over the past 40 years had many opportunities to immortalize the Ariane rockets, but it is not often that the ‘first lady’ of European space has had her picture taken by American cameras. And Ariane was more than happy to strike a pose for Trevor Mahlmann and John Kraus, two photographers from the USA whose youth is as remarkable as their talent.

When ArianeGroup and the European Space Agency (ESA) invited these two photographers to attend the Ariane launch, they were not picked at random. Trevor and John travel all over the US, never missing an opportunity to capture pictures of rocket launch events, and their stunning images of SpaceX taking off recently met with wide acclaim. Their photos certainly tend to make headlines…

Already, at the tender ages of just 22 and 19 respectively, they have made this their profession. As well as working in the US, Trevor has also covered launches in India, Russia and Japan.

They have a novel business model: they never ask for payment to photograph a launch – they are die-hard space fans – but they have set up a system of ‘patrons’* on their websites and they offer their photos to the general and specialist press.

For the 250th launch of Ariane, they quite simply asked us for the (seemingly) impossible, something that had never been done before: 14 cameras positioned at strategic viewpoints all around the Guiana Space Center, some barely a few meters from the launcher itself! You see, what really gets these two photography whizzkids excited… are flames!

Hence their particular interest in Ariane and its phenomenal solid rocket boosters, and why they needed to get their cameras as close as possible to the launcher, even if it meant them melting during lift-off. They assured us the risk was well worth taking… as long as the memory cards survived!

The results speak for themselves. A picture, they say, is worth a thousand words – so with no more ado, here are Trevor and John’s awesome photos!

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    Ariane Flight VA250
    @John Kraus
    Ariane Flight VA250
    @John Kraus
    Ariane Flight VA250
    @John Kraus
    Ariane Flight VA250
    @John Kraus
    Ariane Flight VA250
    @John Kraus
    Ariane Flight VA250
    @Trevor Mahlmann
    Ariane Flight VA250
    @Trevor Mahlmann
    Ariane Flight VA250
    @Trevor Mahlmann
    Ariane Flight VA250
    @Trevor Mahlmann
    Ariane Flight VA250
    @Trevor Mahlmann

    *Patrons pay for special access to the site, with extra content and high definition photos for download. No minimum amount is set for their contribution and all patrons enjoy the same benefits, whether they contribute $1 or $1,000!