Yesterday an Ariane V rocket lifted off on the 100th mission of the program, sending two communications satellites towards their slots in geostationary orbit. 100th Ariane 5 launch a success, orbiting two satellites for Intelsat, SKY Perfect JSAT and Azercosmos – Arianespace
The first Ariane V launch took place on June 4, 1996. Unfortunately, the rocket exploded soon after liftoff due to a software problem.
There was another total loss on the 14th launch and three partial failures (two in the 1990s and one last year) occurred when the satellites were put into the wrong orbits and had to use their own fuel to reach the target orbits. In general, though, the Ariane V became a very reliable launcher. Failures early in launch vehicle’s launch history are the norm as seen, for example, with the two SpaceX Falcon 9 explosions (one in flight and one during a pad test).
Scott Manley gives some background on the Ariane V:
Speaking of launches, here is an essay on the fun and excitement of watching a launch: The day I caught rocket fever | The Planetary Society.