Arianespace celebrates New Year: 30 years of success
Thirty years after the launch of the first Ariane rocket, Arianespace continues to confirm its world leadership and gear up for Soyuz and Vega launches from the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana.
From success to success
Since being founded in 1980, Arianespace has signed over 300 launch Service & Solutions contracts and launched 277 satellites for 73 customers – more than half of all commercial satellites now in service worldwide.
Seven years of successful launches
Arianespace set a new record for Ariane 5 in 2009, with seven launches during a calendar year. These missions orbited nine commercial satellites, the Herschel space telescope, the Planck scientific observatory and the Helios 2B observation satellite.
With 35 successful launches in a row since 2003, Ariane 5 has largely proven its technical maturity and demonstrated its operational capabilities. Ariane 5 is the only launcher on the market capable of simultaneously launching two payloads, while also handling a complete range of missions, from commercial launches into geostationary orbit, to launches of scientific spacecraft into special orbits.
A record-breaking year
Arianespace also set a new business record in 2009. It confirmed its world leadership by signing a total of 16 launch contracts in 2009: 11 for geostationary satellites and five for dedicated Soyuz launches from the Guiana Space Center. Furthermore, Arianespace was chosen to launch the entire Galileo constellation of positioning satellites.
However, the global economic crisis still limited the number of launch contracts signed in 2009. While the largest operators were largely unaffected, and continued their development, several new players were forced to freeze their projects due to the difficult credit situation. In addition, only 14 of the 22 launch service contracts announced in 2009 were for new projects, because of the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing of another launch services company. Arianespace won nine of these 14 contracts, versus only five for its competitors.
Arianespace will generate total revenues for the year of €1.046 billion, with income at break-even. The company’s backlog of orders guarantees three years of operations, with 29 launch contracts for geostationary satellites, six dedicated Ariane 5-ATV launches, and 12 specific Soyuz launches.
Challenges in 2010
Arianespace is planning six to seven Ariane 5 launches in 2010, including the second ATV supply vessel for the International Space Station, the “Johannes Kepler”.
The first launch of a Soyuz rocket from the Guiana Space Center is slated for mid-2010. Integration of the mobile gantry started in November, and system tests are scheduled for the first quarter of 2010. To date, Arianespace has ordered 14 launchers from the Russian space industry and all of these launches have been sold. The first two Soyuz launchers are already in French Guiana.
For upcoming Vega launches, the refurbishment of the ELA-1 launch pad is nearly completed. Each of the three solid propulsion stages of this launcher has passed static firing tests. The development of the Vega launcher will be completed in 2010, with commercial launch services kicking off in 2011.
With Ariane 5, Soyuz and Vega, Arianespace now has a family of launchers that gives it even more flexibility to meet customer requirements. Building on these considerable assets, in particular 35 successful launches in a row of Ariane 5, and 21 Soyuz launches from Baikonur, plus a proven commitment to launching on schedule, Arianespace continues to offer the broadest range of launch opportunities, enabling it to maintain its market share and continue its global leadership over the long haul.
In December 2009 French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced the launch of the Ariane 6 program, within the scope of a major French economic stimulus initiative. Through this program, Arianespace and the French space industry in general will be able to rise to the many challenges that await us in 2010 and beyond.