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Satellite Launcher Arianespace Seeks To Boost US Business

Arianespace expects to post 2006 revenues close to one billion euros, according to Le Gall.
by David Dieudonne
Washington (AFP) Feb 22, 2007
Europe's satellite launch group Arianespace hopes to boost its US business on rising demand for high-definition television, but said Thursday it remains locked out of lucrative US government contracts. Jean-Yves Le Gall, Arianespace's director general, told AFP in an interview that the company has ambitions to muscle into the commercial US market for satellite launch services during the next two or three years.

"There's the potential for very strong demand here that will be driven by demand for high-definition television," Le Gall said in French on the sidelines of Satellite 2007, an industry gathering held here annually.

If demand for high-definition TV blasts off in the US, as satellite TV broadcasters like EchoStar and DirectTV hope, Le Gall says it will trigger increased demand for new satellites which Arianespace would compete aggressively to deliver.

The Arianespace executive is also pinning high hopes on the next generation of cell phones, including Apple's bid to roll out the iPhone, which may eventually offer Internet services as well as television shows to consumers wanting to buy the latest technology.

He said Arianespace, which has 23 shareholders including the French space agency CNES and the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company, is targeting the United States, like Europe and Asia, as a key market for future satellite launches.

Arianespace expects to post 2006 revenues close to one billion euros, according to Le Gall.

He explained that new applications and the capital to finance new projects are two reasons why growth is likely to expand in the US market.

However, Arianespace is likely to encounter stiff competition in the United States from rival International Launch Services (ILS) which uses the Russian Proton launch vehicle.

ILS, a US-Russian group, has several years of experience under its belt, although the giant defense contractor Lockheed Martin dropped out of a partnership with the company last year, taking its Atlas rocket out of the venture.

Arianespace's optimism does not appear to have been eclipsed by the fact that it cannot compete in the US government market for satellite launches due to the "Buy American Act" which restricts foreign involvement in US government satellite launches.

"We are totally out of this market," Le Gall said.

Military satellite launches represent a hefty share of demand for satellite launches, and that market is dominated by Lockheed Martin and Boeing, which operate the Atlas and Delta series of rockets respectively.

"The Department of Defense pays very dearly for government launches," Le Gall said.

Lockheed and Boeing joined forces last year to form the United Launch Alliance in a bid to launch government satellites on a more competitive cost basis.

Le Gall said, however, that the Lockheed-Boeing alliance could also seek private launch contracts in future years and noted that this could present stiff competition to Arianespace.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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SERVIS-2 To Be Launched On Rockot
Tokyo, Japan (SPX) Feb 22, 2007
The Institute for Unmanned Space Experiment Free Flyer (USEF) of Tokyo, Japan and Eurockot Launch Services GmbH of Bremen, Germany yesterday signed a contract for the launch of the SERVIS-2 spacecraft on a Rockot launch vehicle following an international competition. SERVIS-2 will verify the performance of commercial off-the shelf-parts and technologies in the space environment. It is planned to be launched in 2009 from Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Northern Russia.

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