Ariane 5, Soyuz, Vega: Three world-changing launch vehicles
After confirming its world leadership in 2011, Arianespace is now ramping up for operations in 2012.
It aims to carry out seven Ariane 5 launches, five Soyuz launches and the first Vega launch.
Three launchers operating from the equator
With Ariane 5, Soyuz and Vega all operating from the Guiana Space Center (CSG) in French Guiana, not far from the equator, Arianespace offers both commercial and government customers the best launch Service & Solutions in the world. Arianespace is the prime contractor for launch operations at the Guiana Space Center, calling on outstanding teams combining multidisciplinary and highly specialized expertise to operate these three launchers from a single equatorial launch site. This situation generates synergies to guarantee both efficiency and performance.
Nine successful launches, 29 satellites in orbit
Arianespace carried out five Ariane 5 missions in 2011, orbiting nine payloads, including eight communications satellites (out of 16 launched worldwide) and the Johannes Kepler ATV (Automated Transfer Vehicle), the heaviest payload ever orbited by Ariane 5, at more than 20 metric tons. With 46 successful launches in a row, spanning nine years, Ariane 5 is the uncontested world champion of heavy-lift launchers. On October 21, 2011, Arianespace opened another new chapter in the history of space, with the first launch of the Soyuz rocket from the Guiana Space Center. Arianespace performed four Soyuz launches in 2011, two from CSG and two from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, via the Starsem joint venture, orbiting a total of 20 payloads. The company will post total revenues of about €985 million in 2011, and expects to reach break-even.
Arianespace enjoyed an equally impressive year in terms of orders booked. The company confirmed its world leadership by signing ten Ariane 5 contracts for geostationary satellites, out of a total of 21 open to competition, and one contract for a dedicated launch. Arianespace also signed one new contract for a Soyuz launch from CSG, and the first two launch contracts for the Vega rocket. At January 1, 2012, Arianespace’s backlog of orders reached a new record of €4.5 billion, including 21 Ariane 5 launches (30 geostationary satellites and six dedicated launches), 15 Soyuz launches (13 from CSG, two from Baikonur) and two Vega launches. This backlog guarantees the company over three years of business.
Challenges for 2012
Arianespace has set a target of seven Ariane 5 launches in 2012, including the Edoardo Amaldi ATV3, scheduled for March 9. It also plans five Soyuz launches, three from the Guiana Space Center and two from Baikonur, via Starsem. Arianespace teams are working with their counterparts from the European Space Agency (ESA), the Guiana Space Center and industry to prepare the first launch of the new Vega light rocket, which will orbit the Lares and AlmaSat-1 satellites, along with several microsatellites.