Arianespace CEO Confident of Continued Satellite Growth

Ariane 5 ECA for flight V184 climb away from the Guiana Space Centre on the evening of 7 July 2008.


Arianespace is poised to build on its successful 30-year track record as the world’s leading launch services provider – benefitting from a robust payload order book that ensures more than three years of mission activity, and supported by the extension of its launcher family with the introduction of Soyuz and Vega during 2011 at the Spaceport in French Guiana.

This was the outlook provided by Chairman & CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall at Arianespace’s traditional 2010 World Space Business Week conference press breakfast in Paris, where he provided an overview of the company’s activity and offered his perspective on the satellite market’s future.

“At a time when the customers are insisting on a high level of service, we see them coming to Arianespace because of our strong commitment to quality, efficiency, flexibility and reliability,” Le Gall told international reporters. “They also appreciate our philosophy of a single-point of contact from contract signature to satellite delivery in orbit, as well as our proximity to customers with Arianespace’s worldwide presence.”

Le Gall said the acknowledgement of Arianespace’s commitment to service is reflected by the nine contracts signed so far this year for GTO satellite payloads, out of the total 13 international competitions announced during 2010.

“The result of our service quality is reflected in several of these new contracts, including the order for Hughes Network Systems’ Jupiter satellite – for which I am particularly proud,” Le Gall said.  “We first demonstrated our flexibility for Hughes with our launch of its SPACEWAY 3 satellite in 2007, which was orbited on short notice and within the promised deadline, and the customer showed its appreciation by coming back with this follow-up order.”

Another contract signed this year was for Eutelsat W3B, which was transferred to Ariane 5 from a competitive launch vehicle that could not orbit the spacecraft in time.

He said that Arianespace’s solid order book – consisting of 32 GTO satellites, along with six Ariane 5 flights for the Automated Transfer Vehicle and 17 launches specific to Soyuz – will support a sustained mission rate for the coming years.   Le Gall added that an 18th launch contract for Soyuz is expected to be announced this week.

In looking forward to Arianespace’s upcoming launch operations, Le Gall said three more Ariane 5 flights are planned before the end of 2010, which are in addition to the three dual-payload missions performed by the workhorse launcher so far this year.

The next launch is planned for October 28 with Eutelsat’s W3B satellite and the B-SAT Corporation’s BSAT-3b spacecraft.  Its date was moved into October because of satellite production delays, and Le Gall said Arianespace is planning a fast-track approach for this mission once the satellites are delivered to the Spaceport.

Arianespace’s following Ariane 5 mission is targeted for the end of November with the Intelsat 17 and HYLAS-1 payloads, while the heavy-lift vehicle’s concluding flight of 2010 is set for late December with either the no. 2 Automated Transfer Vehicle as its solo payload, or a dual-satellite launch carrying the Hispasat 1E and Koreasat 6 spacecraft.

Also included in Arianespace’s 2010 launch activity is the October 19 flight of a Soyuz from Baikonur Cosmodrome, which will be performed by its Starsem affiliate to orbit the initial batch of Globalstar second-generation satellites.  Le Gall noted this will be a first for the medium-lift Russian launcher, using an evolved Soyuz equipped with the Fregat upper stage to loft six of the 700-kg.-class Globalstar spacecraft.  The previous eight missions performed from 1999 to 2007 for Globalstar utilized an earlier Soyuz version with the Ikar upper stage, and carried four of the first-generation, 450-kg. satellites on each flight.

In 2011, three more Soyuz flights are planned from Baikonur Cosmodrome for Globalstar, carrying a complement of six second-generation satellites on each launch.

Next year also will see the introduction of Soyuz at the Spaceport, with three missions from French Guiana planned during 2011.  Le Gall said the milestone maiden flight is planned in the initial months of the year, with its payload to be determined before the end of 2010.  The choices are either the French Pleiades 1 satellite, accompanied by Chile’s SSOT small Earth observation platform and an auxiliary payload for the French Ministry of Defense, or the first IOV (in-orbit validation) satellite for Europe’s Galileo space-based satellite navigation system.

The third launcher in Arianespace’s family of commercial vehicles is the lightweight Vega, which also is planned to perform its first flight in 2011 from the Spaceport.

Looking to the satellite market’s future, Le Gall said he was upbeat about the long-term prospects. “Although there are some that say we are nearing a downturn, I believe this is a market that will continue to develop,” he said.  “For example, we know there will be a continuing need for satellite relay capacity in mobile communications, as well as for the delivery of high-definition television.  In addition, the explosion in 3D also will drive the need for satellite capacity once this type of television content starts to be delivered to homes.”

Le Gall added that he foresees strong prospects for growth in the Asian, African and Middle East regions, where many new satellite projects are in development or under evaluation.  “Taking all of this into consideration, there is a very good future ahead for the satellite industry,” he concluded.