Status Report

France-in-Space # 377

By SpaceRef Editor
April 19, 2007
Filed under , , ,


Jean-Yves Le Gall was named Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Arianespace by the Board of Directors at the company’s Annual General Meeting of Shareholders, held April 13th in Evry, France. Le Gall had previously held the position of Chief Executive Officer. The Board of Directors’ decision clearly demonstrates their satisfaction with the launch supplier’s current situation and their confidence in Le Gall to lead the company into the future. At the Annual Meeting the shareholders also approved Arianespace’s financial statements for 2006 which showed strong sales of 983 million euros. This is the fourth year in a row that the company has recorded a profit despite an unfavorable euro/dollar exchange rate. 2006 was, in fact, a record-breaking year for the company; it launched five Ariane 5 ECA from the Guiana Space Center and two Soyuz vehicles from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. [Arianespace 04/13/07, Agence France Presse 04/13/07]


A recently completed, comprehensive outside review, the first of ESA’s science program in fifteen years, has made some surprising, insistent proposals on how to get the program’s budget back on track. The Science Program Review Team (SPRT), hired by ESA in February 2006, closely examined how space science missions are developed and how their budgets are managed. The SPRT believes that space science spending (currently about 400 million euros) will remain stagnant even if ESA is one-day merged into the European Commission. Sweeping changes must be made in order to avoid a budgetary crisis. Two of the most striking proposals are that ESA should make itself more available, more often, to collaborations with the U.S., China, Russia, India and Japan, and that it should immediately find 200 million euros in savings before accepting future missions for the 2015-2025 timeframe. The SPRT also suggests that satellite payload costs be evaluated by an outside source, before the mission is accepted, to ensure that the work can be done within the proposed budget. Also, any mission that exceeds its budget by 20% or more should be immediately frozen, and then reevaluated and descoped or even cancelled to make room for other missions. The review team also recommended that ESA be more selective when choosing to extend the life of a successful mission; ESA currently spends 60 million euros a year on missions that have past their original end dates. David Southwood, ESA Science Director, has stated that he is comfortable with virtually all the recommendations.


The Greek and French Ministries of Defense signed an agreement on Friday April 13th granting Greece access to the French-led Helios-2 Earth observation, military satellite program. Greece joins the program as a member of the European consortium BOC (Besoins Opérationnels Communs), joining Germany, Belgium and Italy. Greece will receive a Helios-2 ground terminal to task the sensor, receive and analyze imagery. One Helios-2 satellite is currently in orbit, with a second one to be launched in 2009. Greece’s financial contribution to the program is roughly 80 million euros over the next ten years. [Aviation Week 04/16/07, Athens News Agency 04/17/07]


Globalstar, Inc., a leading provider of mobile satellite voice and data services to businesses, governments and individuals, awarded a 9 million euro-contract to Alcatel Alenia Space (AAS) to upgrade its ground stations. According to the terms of the contract, Alcatel Alenia Space will upgrade the Globalstar satellite operations and control center in Milpitas, CA, as well as its backup satellite ground control facility in El Dorado Hills, CA. AAS will provide the hardware and software upgrades to the facilities which support the 15-year mission duration of the Globalstar second-generation satellite constellation. This contract comes on the heels of the 48-satellite, 661 million euro contract awarded to AAS by Globalstar; the new constellation, currently being manufactured, is expected to provide Globalstar customers with service until at least 2025. AAS will also upgrade the satellite service provider’s Telemetry, Tracking and Command (TT&C) Units and In Orbit Test (IOT) hardware and software at various Globalstar ground stations around the world. [Globalstar 04/03/07, 04/13/07]


The Australian telecommunications operator Optus has chosen Arianespace to launch its Optus D3 satellite. The spacecraft will be orbited by either an Ariane launcher or a Soyuz launcher from French Guiana in 2009. Optus D3 will be the fifth satellite launched by Arianespace for the Australian company. The spacecraft will be manufactured by Orbital Sciences Corporation using a Star-2 platform. Designed for a 15-year lifespan, the all Ku-band satellite will deliver direct TV broadcast, Internet, telephony and data transmission services over Australia and New Zealand.

In related news, Arianespace affiliate Starsem has also scheduled the first Soyuz launch of the year for May 22; it will carry the first of two Globalstar replenishment payloads. [Arianespace 04/04/07, Space News 04/09/07, Aviation Week 04/16/07]


On April 11th, SAFRAN Group, the French aerospace, defense and communications systems company, reported its consolidated sales for the first quarter which amounted to 2.8 billion euros, an increase of 3.3% over the same period last year. Its Aerospace Propulsion branch had a particularly good first quarter as sales rose 11.3%. At a constant dollar, sales would have increased 18.6%. The strong results demonstrate the buoyant business in all civil aviation propulsion markets. [SAFRAN 04/11/07, The Wall Street Journal Europe 04/12/07]

** 7: IN BRIEF

Eutelsat’s Hot Bird 1 satellite, launched in March 1995, has been deorbited after more than eleven years of service. The satellite’s sixteen repeaters accumulated a total of 1.5 million hours of operation during the satellite’s time in orbit. [Air & Cosmos 04/06/07]

The Zefiro 9 solid rocket motor, which will power the third stage of ESA’s small Vega launcher, suffered an anomaly during its second firing test on March 28th. At 35 seconds after ignition, sensors detected a sudden drop in the motor’s internal pressure. The cause is still under investigation. [Le Figaro 03/30/07, ESA 03/29/07]

France In Space is a weekly synthesis of French space activities based on French press. Its content does not reflect an official position of the French Government or CNES. It is provided by the CNES office and the Office of Science and Technology of the French Embassy in Washington, D.C. Editors: Jean-Jacques Tortora, Noëlle Miliard and Timothée Verwaerde

France In Space is available online at There you will find the current issue, subscription and un-subscription forms, as well as the archives with a search engine.

To subscribe/unsubscribe, please go to

About CNES

“CNES develops and leads national space programmes. The main thrust of its action is to serve France’s ambition to sustain a strong space capability and contribute to scientific discovery at the highest levels. CNES is committed to fostering innovative space technologies that meet the current and future needs of society. Most programmes are pursued in cooperation with international partners. CNES also plays a central role in programmes initiated by ESA, the European Space Agency, to which it is a major contributor. It is thus a driving force behind ESA programmes and activities”.

SpaceRef staff editor.