by Staff Writers
Kourou, French Guiana (ESA) Sep 15, 2013
Arianespace has set its sights on maintaining the company's launch services leadership over the long term, building on the already-recognized strengths in reliability and availability with upcoming competitive enhancements for Ariane 5, as well as arranging new production commitments and operational streamlining for its complete launcher family.
Speaking to journalists at the World Satellite Business Week event in Paris today, Chairman and CEO Stephane Israel said Arianespace's track record of on-target missions is an increasingly important competitive advantage in the marketplace - with 80 consecutive successes since 2002 using its launcher family trio of the heavy-lift Ariane 5, medium-lift Soyuz and lightweight Vega.
"This unmatched commercial performance is further enhanced by Arianespace's capability to be reactive when the customers' satellites are ready, and our ability to launch them on time, which we have demonstrated mission after mission at the Spaceport in French Guiana," he explained.
Israel said the recently-approved Ariane 5 upgrade that adds up to two meters in payload fairing height will contribute to the launcher's continued competitiveness. This enhancement, available from 2015, is in addition to the subsequent mid-life evolution for Ariane 5, to be followed by the Ariane 6 successor.
As Ariane 5 will remain in service for years to come, Arianespace currently is preparing the acquisition of the heavy-lift vehicle's next production batch, covering 18 additional launch vehicles available from 2017 - which are in addition to the 20 remaining in the current batch. Israel told reporters that discussions are well advanced with Ariane 5 prime contractor Astrium Space Transportation on this new order, valued at approximately 2 billion euros, with an agreement imminent on the provision of long-term items for these launchers.
For Soyuz, Arianespace is in contact with its Russia partners for 7-10 more launchers to be used from 2016, in addition to the 11 currently under contract for near- and medium-term missions. As Russia already has a sustained manufacturing volume for Soyuz vehicles in meeting the country's national uses, there is time to work out details in the production flow for Arianespace's own requirements, Israel added.
Looking forward to continued activity with Vega, four launchers remain under current production provisions within the European Space Agency's (ESA) Vega Research and Technology Accompaniment (VERTA) program. According to Israel, Arianespace is anticipating the supply of five additional vehicles after consultations with ESA and prime contractor ELV on future Vega operations.
From the launch cadence point of view, Israel said Arianespace maintains its goal of streamlining the mission campaign durations in French Guiana - particularly for Soyuz and Vega based on the experience gained so far, while also reducing the three-week timeframe currently required between the liftoffs of two different launcher family types at the Spaceport.
Arianespace utilized its presence at the World Satellite Business Week event in Paris to confirm its global leadership position, announcing five new contracts for satellites on missions to geostationary transfer orbit: two spacecraft for DIRECTV, along with one each for Intelsat, Embratel-Star One and SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation. Additionally, Arianespace has been selected by Visiona Tecnologia Espacial to launch the Brazilian Geostationary Defense and Strategic Communications Satellite (SGDC).
The new business brings total 2013 bookings to 13, valued at 1.162 billion euros and representing a 62 percent market share.
Arianespace's overall order book backlog is now at a record level, valued at 4.140 billion euros and ensuring more than three years of launch activity for Arianespace, involving the following:
+ 34 payloads for Ariane 5 missions to geostationary transfer orbit (with satellites having liftoff masses ranging from under 3.5 metric tons to over 5 tons);
+ Three dedicated Ariane 5 flights for institutional European customers (with the Automated Transfer Vehicle, the BepiColombo mission to the planet Mercury, and Galileo navigation satellites);
+ 10 Soyuz missions; and
+ Four Vega flights.
"Based on our continued success in the market, Arianespace is by far the world's space transportation leader," Israel concluded. "The priority is on continuing our 'launch smart' strategy as a company that is agile and reactive at the service of customers."
Launch Pad at Space-Travel.com
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