Feature story

Feature story

2012 in numbers: Arianespace continues to lead the industry for commercial launch services

The 11 missions performed by Arianespace’s launcher family during the past 12 months are detailed in this photo collage, with the Spaceport’s year-ending Ariane 5 flight shown in the top row at left, and Vega’s historic 2012 opening mission in the bottom row, at right. In addition to 10 launches flown from French Guiana by Ariane 5, Soyuz and Vega in 2012, the year’s activity included a Baikonur Cosmodrome liftoff, carried out by the company’s Starsem subsidiary (top row, photo at far right).

December 31, 2012

Arianespace achieved an impressive and record-breaking year of activity during 2012, employing its complete launcher family to perform 10 total flights from the Spaceport in French Guiana with the heavy-lift Ariane 5, medium-lift Soyuz and lightweight Vega; along with a Soyuz mission from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome.

These 11 flights lofted a cumulative payload weight of some 75,000 kg. – the most ever for Arianespace in a single calendar year, and were composed of seven Ariane 5 missions, three Soyuz launches and one Vega liftoff.  The mass of primary and secondary passengers accommodated on these flights ranged from 20 metric tons to 1 kg.

In operations at the Spaceport during the past 12 months, Arianespace’s Ariane 5 and Soyuz vehicles carried 11 civil and military telecommunications spacecraft for its worldwide customers, launched Europe’s third Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) to service the International Space Station, delivered two In-Orbit Validation platforms for the European Galileo satellite navigation constellation, lofted Europe’s MSG-3 meteorological platform, and orbited the Pléiades 1B optical imaging satellite for French and European defense ministries.

Vega’s year-opening historic inaugural mission from French Guiana demonstrated this new launcher’s flexibility by carrying a payload of nine spacecraft: the Italian LARES laser relativity satellite, as well as the ALMASat-1 technology microsatellite demonstrator and seven small CubeSats developed by more than 250 university students from six different countries.

Arianespace milestones during the 2012 Spaceport mission activity included Ariane 5’s heaviest-ever payload: the ATV Edoardo Amaldi, weighing more than 20,000 kg. on its flight in March; along with the 50th consecutive success for this heavy-lift workhorse launcher, achieved in August – subsequently increasing to 53 by year-end, underscoring a reliability level that a benchmark in the commercial launch services sector.

In another highpoint, Arianespace surpassed its 300th mark for the total combined number of primary satellite passengers launched from French Guiana; a landmark that was attained in May.  This count did not include some 50 additional auxiliary or secondary payloads accommodated on the company’s various missions, and it was further increased by Arianespace’s launches during the subsequent months of 2012.

Adding to Arianespace’s activity during the year was a Soyuz mission performed at Baikonur Cosmodrome by its Euro-Russian Starsem subsidiary, which carried the European Metop-B meteorological satellite.

Arianespace launch activities during 2012





February 13, 2012



LARES, plus ALMASat-1 and seven cubesats

March 23, 2012 


 Ariane 5 ES

 Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) Edoardo Amaldi

May 15, 2012 


 Ariane 5 ECA


July 5, 2012 


 Ariane 5 ECA

EchoStar XVII and  MSG-3

August 2, 2012 


Ariane 5 ECA 

HYLAS 2 and  Intelsat 20

September 17, 2012 


Soyuz ST


September 28, 2012


Ariane 5 ECA 

ASTRA 2F and  GSAT-10

October 12, 2012


 Soyuz ST

Two Galileo navigation system IOV
(In-Orbit Validation) spacecraft  

November 10, 2012 


Ariane 5 ECA 

EUTELSAT 21B and  Star One C3

December 1, 2012


 Soyuz ST

Pléiades 1B  

December 19, 2012


 Ariane 5 ECA

Mexsat Bicentenario and Skynet 5D 

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