After a very active first half in 2017, Arianespace signs its initial launch contract for the new Vega C launcher and gears up for Ariane 6
2017 Paris Air Show
Arianespace, which is sharing a chalet with ArianeGroup at this year’s Paris Air Show, is focused on the future with the announcement of a first contract for the future Vega C launcher, while gearing up for the operation of Ariane 6. With an order book of 53 launches for Ariane 5, Soyuz and Vega, and fully engaged in marketing Ariane 6, Arianespace continues to prove its ability to satisfy current customers while addressing their future requirements.
Arianespace already has performed six launches this year between January 27 and June 1 – when the company celebrated the 79th successful Ariane 5 mission in a row while also setting a new record for payload injected into geostationary transfer orbit by this heavy launcher.
Arianespace announces the first Vega C contract and a new contract for Vega
Arianespace announced that it has signed the first contract for its Vega C launcher, to deploy Airbus’ new generation of very-high-resolution optical Earth observation satellites. The contract provides for the launch of four satellites, using two Vega C launchers from the Guiana Space Center (CSG) in French Guiana, from mid-2020.
Arianespace also announced that it has signed a contract with OHB Italia SpA to launch an Earth observation satellite for the Italian space agency ASI, named PRISMA (PRecursore IperSpettrale della Missione Applicativa), to be orbited by a Vega rocket from the Guiana Space Center in 2018.
With these contracts, Vega and Vega C demonstrate they are perfectly compatible with the current and future launch markets for Earth observation satellites.
In addition to these contracts, Arianespace has signed two Ariane 5 launch contracts for geostationary satellites since the beginning of the year:
Horizon-3e, operated by SKY Perfect JSAT and Intelsat through a joint venture, with the launch planned as from the end of 2018,
A high-throughput communications satellite for Eutelsat, with a launch scheduled in 2019. Along with this mission, Eutelsat also will allocate two satellites, Eutelsat 7C and Eutelsat Quantum, for launches in 2018 and 2019, respectively. Arianespace will therefore launch three satellites for Eutelsat during this two-year period.
Arianespace’s order book now stands at 4.8 billion euros for 53 launches (18 by Ariane 5, 25 by Soyuz and 10 by Vega/Vega C) on behalf of 28 customers from around the world, clearly reaffirming its leadership in commercial space transport and its ability to meet all market expectations.
Records in performance, reliability and availability for the launcher family
Arianespace set a number of operational records in 2017:
Arianespace marked a new performance record with the Ariane 5 launcher during its latest launch on June 1, 2017, boosting 10,865 kg into geostationary transfer orbit (GTO). This marks an increase of 1,500 kg. since the start of Ariane 5 ECA launches, and the capacity will continue to grow in the coming years.
Ariane 5 has carried out 79 successful launches in a row from the CSG, outpacing the record set by Ariane 4 in 2003 with 74 in a row. Vega has made nine launches, all successful, since entering service in 2012 at CSG, while Soyuz has logged a total of 43 missions from Baikonur and CSG.
Availability and flexibility record
The three launches delayed because of strikes in French Guiana were subsequently performed in less than a month, from May 4 to June 1, 2017. Arianespace’s teams and partners stepped up to the plate during this situation, proving their flexibility and availability, while also reducing the length of launch campaigns by 25% in two years.
Arianespace also launched the first all-electric satellites this year, using Ariane 5 (Eutelsat 172B on June 1st) and Soyuz (SES-15 on May 18th), showing that its launchers are fully compatible with new-generation satellites using electric propulsion.
The 2017 objective: 12 launches
The next launch of Ariane 5 is planned for June 28, and will carry the two satellites Hellas-Sat 3-Inmarsat S EAN “condosat” for Inmarsat and Hellas Sat, and GSAT-17 for the Indian space agency ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization). This will bring the total number of launches during the first half of the year to seven. Five more are planned in the second half, depending on payload availability: three by Ariane 5 and two by Vega.
6 successful launches in 4.5 months: January 27 – June 1, 2017
8 injected into GTO by Ariane 5 and Soyuz, for a total launch weight of 34.5 metric tons.
An Earth observation satellite launched by Vega.
6 more launches planned in 2017: 4 by Ariane 5 and 2 by Vega.
79 successes in a row for Ariane 5
Payload record into GTO of 10,865 kg by Ariane 5
2017 – 2023: Arianespace’s priorities
Building on the first launch contract won by Vega C, Arianespace continues to gear up for the service entry of this upgraded light launcher, which will offer a larger fairing and higher performance.
The marketing of Ariane 6 has also started, including discussions with both government and private operators. Ariane 6 is a modular launcher, available in both the Ariane 62 and Ariane 64 versions, and fitted with a versatile upper stage featuring the new Vinci restartable engine and a new auxiliary power unit (APU), along with large payload capacity. These improvements will in turn enhance orbital injection and allow the launcher to handle an increasingly diversified range of missions, meeting the requirements for the promising mega-constellation market as well as seizing new opportunities with the advent of electric propulsion systems for satellites, while continuing to meet Europe’s governmental needs.
At the same time, Arianespace continues to prepare for the operational transition between its current family of launchers and the new-generation Ariane 6 and Vega C, working alongside ArianeGroup, its majority shareholder and industrial prime contractor for Ariane launchers, as well as Avio/ELV, industrial prime contractor for Vega, and the European Space Agency (ESA). The Exploitation Review Key Point (ERKP) planned by ESA for the end of 2017, should finalize the different parameters for this transition phase. This should specify the commitment by European countries and institutions as customers for Ariane 6 and Vega C, thus guaranteeing sustainable and independent access to space for Europe, and also allowing these launchers to compete on a level playing field.
Finally, Arianespace pursuit with ESA the preparation of the LLL initiative (Light satellite-Low cost-Launch Initiative)), which was approved at the ESA Ministerial-level conference in December 2016, to provide low-cost launch services for small satellites on Ariane 6 and Vega C. This initiative clearly reflects Arianespace’s determination to grasp all opportunities offered by the growth of the small satellite market.
At the opening of the 2017 Paris Air Show, Arianespace Chief Executive Officer Stéphane Israël said: “With 12 launches performed in 2016, 11 in 2016 and six between the beginning of 2017 and June 1, Arianespace has fully met our customer commitments since the last Paris Air Show in 2015. The performance, reliability and availability records set by, Ariane 5, Soyuz and Vega, once again demonstrate the outstanding launch service quality delivered by Arianespace to the benefit of its customers. With an order book now worth some 4.8 billion euros for 53 launches, we have reaffirmed our leadership in the commercial market, and are preparing for an unprecedented level of activity. By signing the first contract for Vega C and undertaking active preparations for Ariane 6, we are resolutely turning toward the next decade. We are very pleased to undertake these initiatives within the framework of ArianeGroup, in close partnership with Avio/ELV for Vega operations, and with the continued confidence of ESA, national space agencies in Europe and our shareholders – indispensable partners for the success of our future launchers.”
Arianespace uses space to make life better on Earth by providing launch services for all types of satellites into all orbits. It has orbited more than 550 satellites since 1980, using its family of three launchers, Ariane, Soyuz and Vega, from launch sites in French Guiana (South America) and Baikonur, Kazakhstan. Arianespace is headquartered in Evry, near Paris, and has a technical facility at the Guiana Space Center, Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, plus local offices in Washington, D.C., Tokyo and Singapore. Arianespace is a subsidiary of Airbus Safran Launchers, which holds 74% of its share capital, with the balance held by 17 other shareholders from the European launcher industry.