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Arianespace Poised For 2010 Boost - 07-January-2010, 15:54

Arianespace Poised For 2010 Boost

During 2010, Arianespace also will celebrate the 30th anniversary of its creation as the world's first commercial space transportation company - marking its formal establishment in March 1980.

Arianespace is entering its 30th year of commercial activity with the business and operational tools to retain the company's industry leadership role - especially during challenging market conditions and amid strong competition among launch service providers.

Speaking to international journalists at the annual New Year's press conference in Paris today, Chairman and CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall said the keys to Arianespace's continued success include its Ariane 5, Soyuz and Vega launcher family, to be operated in side-by-side missions from the Spaceport in French Guiana; the company's emphasis on quality, reliability and flexibility; and the highly capable management of its launch services business from contract signature to payload delivery in orbit.

"These attributes will be especially important in the coming 12 months, when market conditions will once again be challenging, and customers become more and more demanding," said Le Gall. "Just as we led the pack in 2009, Arianespace intends to maintain its leadership position this year."

He said 2010 will be particularly busy for Arianespace launches: the heavy-lift Ariane 5 is to continue its sustained mission rate at the Spaceport with plans for another seven flights; the medium-lift Soyuz is to be introduced at French Guiana; and the Vega launcher is approaching its maiden flight - which could occur in late 2010 from the Spaceport.

Arianespace's order book grows with 16 new launch contracts in 2009

This operations pace is supported by Arianespace's on-going commercial success and growing order book, which added 16 new launch contracts during 2009 to set a record for the company and position it again at the top of the global launch services marketplace.

The new business comprised 11 orders for geostationary satellites, representing 50 percent of the overall market, plus five others for dedicated Soyuz launches from the Spaceport. Additionally, Arianespace was chosen to launch the entire Galileo constellation of space-based global positioning satellites - for which a formal contract will be signed in the coming weeks.

"Our order book today represents three years of activity for Ariane 5 and Soyuz, composed of 29 satellites for missions to GTO [geostationary transfer orbit], six launches of the Automated Transfer Vehicle for servicing of the International Space Station, and 12 launches for Soyuz," Le Gall explained. "This maintains - and somewhat strengthens - our ongoing backlog of payloads to GTO, and it significantly increases our growing business volume for Soyuz."

Le Gall said the 2009 business base was marked by a large range in the mass of satellite payloads, as well as in the variety of customers' mission needs and requirements. "We were able to respond successfully because of our availability of Ariane 5 and Soyuz - and in the future, Vega," he added.

"Particularly important was the combined availability of Ariane 5 and Soyuz, as in most cases customers are requesting to be launched either by Ariane 5 or Soyuz when signing contracts for satellites that are in the three-metric-ton weight category."

2010: A busy year for Arianespace's family of launch vehicles

Le Gall said Arianespace's schedule of seven Ariane 5 missions for 2010 - which is the same number as performed last year - will start in mid-March with another of the vehicle's trademark dual-payload missions, carrying the ASTRA 3B commercial telecommunications satellite for Luxembourg-based SES ASTRA, along with Germany's COMSATBw-2 military relay platform.

Among the other payloads listed on the 2010 mission manifest is Ariane 5's second launch of the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), which will service the International Space Station.

Soyuz operations are expected to begin this summer from the Spaceport, with a total of three missions planned in 2010 by the venerable medium-lift launcher from its new launch pad at French Guiana; while the maiden flight of the new lightweight Vega also could occur before year-end from the Spaceport, Le Gall added.

Additionally, Arianespace's Starsem affiliate will perform several Soyuz missions during 2010 from the vehicle's original launch base at the Baikonur Cosmodrome to orbit Globalstar 2 constellation satellites.

During 2010, Arianespace also will celebrate the 30th anniversary of its creation as the world's first commercial space transportation company - marking its formal establishment in March 1980.

The seven Ariane 5 missions performed by Arianespace during 2009 orbited a total of nine telecommunications satellites (eight for international commercial operators, plus one military relay satellite for Germany), two astronomy spacecraft (Europe's Herschel and Planck deep-space telescopes), and one military reconnaissance platform (Helios 2B for a French-led European program).

This brought Ariane 5's consecutive successes to 35. The unbroken series of on-target flights, which covers the period from 2003 to 2009, is a first in the 30-year history of the Ariane launch vehicle family. "Once again, our track record demonstrated the value of operating two standardized versions of the workhorse Ariane 5: one that is used for missions to geostationary transfer orbit, and the other variant on flights to low-Earth orbit for satellite constellations and the ATV," Le Gall stated.

Addressing certain satellite operators' calls for increased competition in the launch services marketplace, Le Gall maintained that the current field of commercial vehicles already provides more than enough capacity based on the projections for new satellite orders. He underscored Arianespace's philosophy that quality comes at a price.

"In reality, I think some operators feel there is a shortage of inexpensive launchers, while the focus should really be on the availability of quality launchers," he concluded.
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