Space Commerce

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Arianespace Conclude MOU on Cooperation in Commercial Space Rocket Launches

By Marc Boucher
Press Release
June 7, 2013
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Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Arianespace Conclude MOU on Cooperation in Commercial Space Rocket Launches
File photo: Ariane 5launch of EchoStar XVII and MSG-3.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) and Arianespace S.A. today concluded a memorandum of understanding (MOU) pertaining primarily to implementation of joint proposals relating to commercial space rocket launches.
An exchange of the MOU documents took place at the Japanese Prime Minister’s official residence in the presence of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and French President Francois Hollande, who is currently in Japan on an state visit. The exchange ceremony was attended by MHI Chairman Hideaki Omiya and Jacques Breton, Arianespace’s Senior Vice President in charge of Sales & Customers.

With the new MOU, MHI and Arianespace agreed to collectively probe the creation of innovative new launch services and standardization of satellite preparation tasks at launch sites as a follow-up to their cooperative achievements to date. The aims behind the latest initiative are further development of the commercial launch market and sustained enhancement of the two companies’ related services.

Cooperation between Japan’s space industry and Arianespace traces back to the early 1990s, when the two sides exchanged views in a quest to standardize rocket and payload interfaces. Out of those exchanges evolved a new cooperative relationship between MHI and Arianespace that led to the two companies’ formation of a “Launch Services Alliance.” The new MOU is designed to take their mutual partnership one step further.

MHI Chairman Hideaki Omiya spoke of the new MOU in the following terms. “MHI is very proud to conclude this memorandum with Arianespace, a company that boasts a greater than 50% share of the global commercial launch market,” he said. “We are confident that by cooperating with Arianespace we will be able to provide customers with more attractive services of higher value. Relations between France and MHI span many different areas, and with this latest development we look forward to the further strengthening or our ties.”

Returning from the Guiana Space Center after the successful launch of the ATV4 mission to the International Space Station, Arianespace Chairman and CEO Stéphane Israël expressed his satisfaction with the formal signature of this partnership, less than a month after his trip to Japan. He warmly thanked the French President and Japanese Prime Minister for helping to spotlight this collaboration between Arianespace and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

Arianespace’s Jacques Breton, the company’s Senior Vice President in charge of Sales & Customers, offered these remarks on the occasion: “Arianespace is especially proud of this agreement concluded with the giant of the Japanese space industry,” he commented. “This cooperative arrangement should enable both MHI and us to propose services to our clients that are more flexible and better suited to their needs. Japan has been a major partner for Arianespace for 30 years, and will continue to be so for many more years to come.”

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI)

MHI entered the rocket launch services business in 2007 using Japan’s primary rocket, the H-IIA. In May 2012 the company successfully launched the KOMPSAT-3 satellite of South Korea, its first overseas customer, and in September 2012 it expanded its business portfolio with the addition of the H-IIB rocket. The company’s launch services business boasts a high success rate of 95.5%, with 16 consecutive successes attesting to its high reliability.


Arianespace is the world’s leading satellite launch company, providing innovative services to its customers for more than 30 years since 1980. As of 7 June 2013, 213 Ariane launches, 30 Soyuz launches (four from the Guiana Space Centre and 26 from Baikonur with Starsem) and two Vega launches have been performed. Ariane 5, which is the workhorse of Arianespace, achieved 55 consecutive success with a 97.5 success rate for Ariane 5 ECA, the version used mainly to launch commercial geostationary satellites. The company has an order book worth 20 Ariane 5, 11 Soyuz and three Vega launches, which is equivalent to three years of business.

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