Press Release

Arianespace in spotlight at Satellite 2014: expects another record-breaking year!

By SpaceRef Editor
March 11, 2014
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Offering a family of launchers with unrivaled reliability, Arianespace reaffirms its position as the benchmark launch services provider, with solutions that cover the needs of the world’s satellite manufacturers and operators. Arianespace is of course on hand at the industry’s premier event, Satellite 2014, taking place in Washington, D.C. from Monday, March 10 to Thursday, March 13.

Since being founded, Arianespace has signed nearly 400 launch contracts with 89 different customers. It has carried out 216 Ariane launches, along with 32 Soyuz launches (26 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, via the Euro-Russian subsidiary Starsem, and six from the Guiana Space Center in France Guiana), and the first two launches of the Vega light launcher, for a total of 481 payloads placed into orbit.

2013: unprecedented order intake

Drawing on a complete range of launch vehicles, with proven reliability and availability, Arianespace signed 15 commercial launch contracts in 2013 for geostationary telecommunications satellites to be launched by Ariane 5, plus three contracts for Earth observation satellites to be launched by Vega – a new record for Arianespace.

Thanks to this unprecedented success, Arianespace now has the largest backlog of launch orders of all commercial launch providers, equal to more than three years of operations. Its order book is worth some $6 billion and encompasses 29 customers, including 34 satellites to be launched into geostationary orbit by Ariane 5, three special Ariane 5 launches, nine Soyuz launches and seven Vega launches.

2014: shooting for an operational record

To keep pace with this demanding order book, Arianespace plans to carry out up to 12 launches from the Guiana Space Center in 2014, beating the previous record of ten launches set in 2012. The first mission this year orbited the ABS-2 and Athena-Fidus satellites using an Ariane 5 ECA rocket. The next launch, on March 21, will once again use an Ariane 5 ECA to loft the Astra 5B and Amazonas 4A satellites into geostationary transfer orbit. It will be followed on April 3 by a Soyuz launch of the Sentinel-1A observation satellite into a sun-synchronous polar orbit for the European Commission’s Copernicus program.

A constant focus on meeting customers’ evolving needs

In 2013, Arianespace kicked off several projects to adapt its launcher family and range of services to meet customer needs. Projects under way include a larger fairing for Ariane 5 ECA to handle growing geostationary telecommunications satellites, enhanced scheduling of the combined operations of the three launch systems, Ariane, Soyuz and Vega, in particular to reduce the time needed between missions by two different launchers, and the construction of a New Filling Hall (NBR) dedicated to propellant loading operations for the Fregat upper stage of Soyuz, therefore freeing an additional loading facility for use by Arianespace’s customers.

Production continuity and proactive development of next-generation Ariane launchers reflect confidence in the future

Arianespace now has a total of 62 launchers under order (38 Ariane 5, 14 Vega and 10 Soyuz), clearly indicating its confidence in the future. On December 14, 2013, it ordered 18 more Ariane 5 ECA launchers from Airbus Defence and Space, as well as ten additional Vega rockets from ELV. Discussions for the procurement of additional Soyuz launchers are continuing with Arianespace’s partners at the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, and should be completed by the end of the first half of 2014.

Arianespace is also taking a very active role in building foundations for the future by passing on to the European Space Agency its customers’ expectations concerning the next-generation Ariane launchers, with Ariane 5ME to enter service in 2018, then Ariane 6 as from 2021.

SpaceRef staff editor.