While Elon Musk and SpaceX have been dominating the media spotlight with their spectacular Falcon 9 first-stage landings and even more spectacular launch pad firexplanomaly, Arianespace has quietly went about the task of putting satellites into orbit and signing new launch contracts.
On Wednesday, the company announced the signing of two contracts to launch the Intelsat 39 satellite in 2018 and JCSAT-17 in 2019. Arianespace says these were the 12th and 13th contracts signed since January 2016. The contracts, which are worth 1.1 billion euros ($1.16 billion), include:
- 9 Ariane 5 contracts: DGA (French defense procurement agency): COMSAT NG 1 and COMSAT NG 2; VIASAT: ViaSat-2; ISRO: GSAT 11; INMARSAT/HELLAS-SAT: Inmarsat S-band/Hellas-Sat 3; SKY Perfect JSAT: JCSAT-17; INTELSAT: Intelsat 39; and two for undisclosed customers.
- 2 Vega contracts: CERES for the DGA and CNES; ADM Aeolus for ESA.
- 2 Soyuz contracts: undisclosed customers.
“Arianespace has logged a dynamic business performance since January 2016 despite a slowdown in the telecom satellite market and increasingly aggressive price competition,” the company said in a press release.
Arianespace has 55 launches on its books worth 5.2 billion euros ($5.47 billion), including 27 Soyuz, 20 Ariane 5 and 8 Vega flights. Seventy percent of the launches involve telecommunications satellites, 23 percent Earth observation spacecraft, and 7 percent navigation and science satellites, the company said.
After launching 11 times last year, Arianespace is looking forward to 12 launches this year. The flights include:
- Up to seven with Ariane 5:
- Six Ariane 5 ECA launchers carrying satellites into GTO for global or regional operators.
- One Ariane 5 ES, which will orbit four more Galileo satellites for the European Commission and ESA in the second half of the year.
- Three with Vega, which will inject four Earth observation satellites into Sun-synchronous orbit:
- Two single launches: Sentinel-2B, for the Copernicus program led by the European Commission and ESA; and ADM Aeolus (Atmospheric Dynamics Mission) for ESA.
- One dual launch: OPTSAT 3000 (on behalf of CGS and Telespazio for the Italian defense ministry)/VENµS (for the Israeli space agency and CNES).
- Two by Soyuz, which will carry out its first missions from CSG into geostationary transfer orbit, for the Hispasat HAG-1/H36G and SES-15 satellites.
Arianespace is also looking forward to the Ariane 6 launcher, which will replace Ariane 5, and the Vega C, which will be an upgraded version of the Vega booster.
“Confirmation of the Vega C and Ariane 6 programs, with their inaugural flights expected in 2019 and 2020, respectively, enables Arianespace to better meet the expectations of its institutional and commercial customers,” the company stated. “As a result, Arianespace already is engaged in the preparation of the first offers for these two launchers.”