Latest Press releases

Corporate September 11, 2017

Arianespace announces a new contract, bringing its order book to 53 launches: 17 for Ariane 5, 27 with Soyuz and nine utilizing Vega/Vega C

The opening of World Satellite Business Week 2017

Arianespace is once again participating in the World Satellite Business Week (WSBW) conference, being held this year from September 11 to 15 in Paris, and already has confirmed its commercial dynamic by announcing a first contract this week – encompassing two launches for the European operator EUMETSAT. The Arianespace order book will ensure sustained business with 53 launches during the coming years, reflecting customers’ confidence in the reliability, availability and flexibility of its family of three launch vehicles: Ariane 5, Soyuz and Vega. At the same time, Arianespace is actively preparing for the arrival of its new Ariane 6 and Vega C launchers.

Stéphane Israël, Chief Executive Officer of Arianespace, will participate in the roundtable discussion “Established players moving to the rhythm of a changing launch market” at WSBW on Tuesday, September 12 at 4:15 p.m.

Sustained business and operational activity

Eight launches already this year

Arianespace has carried out eight launches since the start of 2017, orbiting 13 satellites (of which 10 were for operation in geostationary orbit) with a cumulative mass of nearly 44 metric tons. These launches also set a series of operational records, reaffirming the advantages of the Arianespace launcher family: reliability, availability, flexibility and performance.

  • Ariane 5: On June 28, 2017, Ariane 5 logged its 80th successful launch in a row from the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana. Arianespace’s heavy launcher also set a new performance record on June 1 during Flight VA237, carrying a total of 10,865 kg. into geostationary transfer orbit (GTO), including 9,969 kg. for the two satellites.
  • Soyuz: The medium launcher successfully carried out its first-ever two launches into geostationary transfer orbit from the Guiana Space Center, performed on January 27 (Flight VS16) and May 18 (Flight VS17), clearly demonstrating its great flexibility.
  • Vega: This light launcher has increased its launch rate, with four missions during the past 12 months, making it the benchmark in its segment with 10 consecutive successes.
  • Three launches performed in less than a month, from May 4 to June 1, 2017 (using two Ariane 5s and one Soyuz).

Two more Ariane 5 launches and one by Vega are scheduled by the end of this year, bringing to 11 the total number of launches expected in 2017 (6 with Ariane 5, 2 by Soyuz and 3 with Vega):

  • The VA239 mission for Intelsat 37e and BSAT 4a, currently scheduled as from September 29.
  • A Vega mission on November 7 for Thales Alenia Space and Airbus Defence and Space.
  • An Ariane 5 ES mission for the European Space Agency (ESA), on December 12 or 13, to orbit four more Galileo satellites for the European Union’s Galileo satellite navigation program.

The seventh Ariane 5 mission previously scheduled for this year will now be carried out in 2018, as one satellite will not be available. As a result, the total number launches planned with Ariane 5s during 2018 is now set at seven.

Seven launch contracts won to date in 2017: the order book now stands at 53 launches

With its family of three launchers – Ariane 5, Soyuz and Vega – Arianespace adapts to a constantly changing satellite market and meets the emerging needs of its customers. Arianespace is the benchmark supplier worldwide of launch services for geostationary telecommunications satellites, and is stepping up its position in the market for small Earth observation satellites, as well as planned constellations in low Earth orbit (LEO).

At the opening of World Satellite Business Week 2017, Arianespace announces a new contract with the operator EUMETSAT to orbit two second-generation polar-orbiting meteorological satellites: MetOp-SG A1 and MetOp-SG B1. These satellites will be launched by two different Soyuz missions from the Guiana Space Center between 2021 and 2023. The contract also includes an option for the launch of a third MetOp-SG satellite, with EUMETSAT able to choose either a Soyuz or next-generation Ariane 62 launch vehicle – marking the first option subscribed by a customer for the next-generation Ariane 6 launcher.

With this latest agreement, Arianespace has now signed five contracts so far in 2017, for a total of seven additional launches. This includes the first Vega C launch contracts, signed in June 2017 with Airbus Defence and Space, to launch two very-high-resolution Earth observation satellites.

Other new contracts will be announced during the World Satellite Business Week event.

Arianespace’s order book now stands at more than €4.7 billion. This corresponds to 53 launches: 17 by Ariane 5, 27 by Soyuz and nine by Vega/Vega C. Of these launches, 60% are for telecommunications satellites, with 40% for Earth observation, navigation and scientific missions. Nearly one-third of these launches will be carried out for European institutions, thereby affirming Arianespace’s mission to ensure autonomous access to space for Europe.

Ariane 6 and Vega C: concrete progress; staying on track

Technical innovations already introduced in current family

During 2017, Arianespace’s current range of launchers has evolved to further improve its competitiveness going forward.

Accordingly, both Ariane 5 and Vega are now being progressively fitted with new “out-of-autoclave” fairings, which will be systematically used on the new Ariane 6 and Vega C. Built by RUAG of Switzerland, these fairings are made by a simplified and more highly automated manufacturing process.

In parallel, Arianespace is continuing its Ariane 5 ECA performance improvement plan through the end of 2019, including increases in both payload weight carried and volume available under the fairing.

Finally, an overall competitiveness improvement plan will guarantee lower costs implemented on Ariane 5, even before the arrival of Ariane 6.

Gearing up for the operation of Ariane 6 and Vega C

After the French CNES space agency transferred its shares in Arianespace to Airbus Safran Launchers in December 2016, Arianespace’s new governance structure took effect at the end of March 2017. Airbus Safran Launchers – which became ArianeGroup on July 1, 2017 – is now the majority shareholder in Arianespace, with 74% of its share capital. The rest of Arianespace’s European shareholding remains unchanged.

Arianespace also is gearing up for the operation of Ariane 6 and Vega C, decided in conjunction with ESA, CNES in France, ArianeGroup and Avio. The partners are setting up a structure with greater integration of the different teams at the Guiana Space Center to boost competitiveness.

As a result, during the launch campaign for Vega’s Flight VV10 mission – Avio, as industrial prime contractor for Vega – for the first time took responsibility for preparing the launcher until its liftoff (H0), while Arianespace maintains full responsibility for customer relations, as well as operations for the final countdown and the launch decision.

A similar change will be applied to Ariane 5 operations as soon as 2018.

Ariane 6 and Vega C: on schedule, with Arianespace customers at the heart of the process 

The development of Ariane 6, with ArianeGroup as industrial prime contractor, is based on regular “Maturity Gates,” with a first Ariane 6 launch planned for July 16, 2020, followed by a full capacity of 11 to 12 launches per year from 2023.

Arianespace is actively preparing the transition between its current launchers and Ariane 6 and Vega C. A key milestone on the operational and financial issues of the transition (2020-2023) will be held at the end of 2017 under the auspices of ESA. The conclusions will be presented to the ESA Council in March 2018. It is in this context that the European institutions will confirm their policy of grouped purchases of the Ariane 6 and Vega C launchers (with the first flight of Vega C scheduled for 2019).

Additionally, discussions are intensifying with commercial operators and institutional customers for the purchase of these future launchers – as already demonstrated by the first contract for Vega C and the first possible option for Ariane 6.

More than ever, Ariane 6 and Vega C are materializing – with the support of Arianespace customers – as Europe’s response to the evolving space adventure, providing a source of new opportunities.

About Arianespace 

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 ArianeGroup, which holds 74% of its share capital, with the balance held by 17 other shareholders from the European launcher industry.

Ouverture de la World Satellite Business Week 2017
PDF / 117 KB
Corporate September 11, 2017

Arianespace and EUMETSAT announce the signature of a launch contract for the first Metop-SG satellites

Read more
Tune in on close