Press Release

Arianespace gears up for record year in 2014

By SpaceRef Editor
January 7, 2014
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Arianespace gears up for record year in 2014

Following a year of unprecedented orders, Arianespace is gearing up to beat its record for the number of launches during a year in 2014, while continuing to adapt its launcher family to meet customer needs and bolstering its competitiveness.


Unprecedented order intake for a record backlog of launches

Arianespace signed 18 launch contracts in 2013, worth €1.4 billion:

– 15 for geostationary satellites to be launched by Ariane 5, giving it a market share of 60%.

– 3 for Earth observation satellites, to be launched by Vega. 

Based on this business success, Arianespace now has a record backlog of orders, worth a total of €4.3 billion and equal to more than three years of launches. With 21 Ariane 5 launches, nine Soyuz launches and six Vega launches, Arianespace continues to have the largest launch backlog in the industry, one that includes a wide range of both government and private customers from around the world. 

Quality, reliability, availability: the watchwords for Arianespace launches

With its family of Ariane 5, Soyuz and Vega launchers, Arianespace confirmed its ability in 2013 to handle a complete range of missions, from commercial launches into geostationary orbit to launches of scientific spacecraft into special orbits, while maintaining its unrivaled reliability and availability. Ariane 5 has now logged an impressive 11 years of uninterrupted success, with 57 successful launches in a row and 12 consecutive countdowns with launches taking place right on time.

Arianespace carried out eight launches in 2013: seven from the Guiana Space Center and one from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Three Ariane 5 ECA launchers orbited six telecommunications satellites, an Ariane 5 ES launched the fourth ATV (Automated Transfer Vehicle), dubbed “Albert Einstein”, to the International Space Station, and two Soyuz missions orbited the first four 03b satellites, and the Gaia space telescope respectively. The second launch of Vega, also a success, orbited Proba-V, VNREDSat-1 and ESTCube-1, confirming the operational status of the latest launcher to join the Arianespace family.

Successful startup of projects to enhance operations

In 2013 Arianespace kicked off various operational projects designed to adapt its launchers to market requirements, and support greater operational flexibility in coming years.

Ariane 5 ECA: to keep pace with the increasing size of geostationary telecom satellites, Arianespace received support from the European Space Agency (ESA) to undertake a program, financed by France and Switzerland, to increase the payload capacity under the fairing, without penalizing performance. The new system should be available in the second half of 2015.

Increased capacity and flexibility at the Guiana Space Center: a decision was made to build a New Filling Hall (NBR), dedicated to propellant loading operations for the Soyuz upper stage, Fregat; it should be ready in the first half of 2015. The aim is to free the current building (S3B) used for this purpose, making it available for payloads, since propellant loading for the Fregat is currently a bottleneck during launch campaigns at CSG. 

Furthermore, by improving the combined operational planning for the three launch systems, Arianespace was able to reduce the length of the Soyuz and Vega launch campaigns, while also reducing the time between missions by two different launchers from three to two weeks.

Launcher supply continuity:

Ariane 5: signature of a contract with Astrium (now Airbus Defence and Space) on December 14, 2013 for 18 additional Ariane 5 ECA launchers, to be used starting in 2017.

Vega: signature on November 20 in Rome with ELV and ESA of a tripartite agreement establishing the procurement conditions for an additional 10 Vega launchers.

Soyuz: discussions are continuing with our partners in the Russian space agency Roscosmos, and should be concluded by mid-2014, to complete the batch currently being procured to meet Arianespace’s requirements.

Arianespace therefore has a total of 62 launchers (38 Ariane 5, 14 Vega and 10 Soyuz) under order, clearly demonstrating its faith in the future. 


Objective: a new operational record to better serve our customers

To meet the requirements of its record backlog of orders, Arianespace aims to beat the record for launches in a year, of ten in 2012. Operations will kick off in February, using Ariane 5 ECA for two geostationary transfer orbit (GTO) missions: VA217, with ABS-2 and Athena-Fidus, then VA216, with Astra 5B and Amazonas 4A.

Focus on Europe and government customers

In line with Arianespace’s assigned mission of ensuring independent access to space for Europe, the company plans a number of launches in 2014 for European governments and agencies.

European Commission: the first launch (Sentinel 1A) for Copernicus, a European program dedicated to the environment and risk management, along with the continued deployment of the Galileo constellation, using the Soyuz launcher. At the same time, Soyuz will continue to deploy the commercial constellation O3b, following its first launch in 2013.

European Space Agency (ESA): launch of the last ATV cargo vessel, “Georges Lemaître”, with an Ariane 5 ES, and the IXV demonstrator using a Vega rocket.

French and Italian armed forces: the launch of two military communications satellites, Athena-Fidus and Sicral 2, using the Ariane 5 ECA.


Faced with growing competition, Arianespace plans to immediately improve the competitiveness of its Ariane launch system along with all partners in this program. At the same time, it will submit concrete proposals to improve the Ariane “road map”, to be defined at the ESA ministerial-level conference scheduled for Luxembourg in December 2014.

Ariane 5 ME to offer higher performance starting in 2018

To meet emerging market requirements, including the advent of a number of small and medium satellites, calling on the advantages of electric propulsion systems, Arianespace hopes to be able to deploy its upgraded Ariane 5 ME launcher as soon as possible. This new version will offer greater flexibility, thanks to an upper stage equipped with the restartable Vinci cryogenic engine. A first launch could be carried out as early as 2018.

Ariane 6 to drive continued success in the next decade 

Extending the advantages of Ariane 5 ME, Ariane 6 will meet the needs of both government and commercial customers by offering competitive launch rates for large and small satellites alike. Arianespace fully supports the initiative by ESA and the European space industry to develop the most competitive launcher possible over the next decade.


SpaceRef staff editor.