Launches to Resume from French Guiana

Ariane 5 launch (Credit: Arianespace)

Launches will soon be resuming from French Guiana with the end of a general strike.

Thanks to the “Accord de Guyane” agreement signed April 21 by French and French Guianese officials, launch service provider Arianespace says it will be able to soon resume launch activity and can make up for delays by using previously scheduled downtime over the next two months.

“Now that an agreement has been reached, we are fully ready to resume our operations in [the Guiana Space Centre, or CSG],” an Arianespace official told SpaceNews via email April 21. “We aim to make up for the accumulated delays on the three campaigns that were under way, without impacting the rest of our manifest, by taking advantage of the CSG’s availability in May and most of June, since there were no launches scheduled those months.”

[….]

“We believe it will take about eight working days (after resumption of operations) to carry out the VA236 launch that was originally scheduled for March 21,” the Arianespace official added.

The company declined to say when exactly operations would resume.

Residents of the French overseas department have been striking over a lack of jobs, high crime and other problems.
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Arianespace, Intelsat and SKY Perfect JSAT Sign New Launch Services Agreement

TOKYO, 20 April 2017  (Arianespace PR) – Arianespace announced today that it will launch Horizons 3e, a satellite belonging to the Horizons joint venture owned by Intelsat (NYSE: I) and SKY Perfect JSAT. Arianespace will orbit this Boeing-built payload in the launch period starting late 2018 on an Ariane 5 from the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana.

Horizons 3e will complete Intelsat’s global EpicNG network. The high-throughput satellite’s C-band and Ku-band transponders will provide 22 Gbps+ in growth capacity for aeronautical and maritime mobility applications spanning from Asia and the Pacific to North America. Horizons 3e is also expected to support further development of specialty networks for governments. The spacecraft will weigh 6,500 kg. at liftoff.

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European Commission Commits to Minimum Ariane 6, Vega C Orders

Ariane 6 variants (Credit: ESA–David Ducros,)

There’s was some good news this week for Airbus Safran Launchers and Arianespace, which were looking for a guaranteed number of orders for their new boosters.

The European Commission will commit to buying at least five Ariane 6 and two Vega C launches per year when both rockets are in operation, Elzbieta Bienkowska, the European Commission’s lead space commissioner, said Wednesday….

“We will aggregate our institutional launches to support those two launchers,” she said…

Bienkowska also said Europe’s confidence in the suitability of Ariane 6 and Vega C, both of which are single-use rockets, remains unshaken by the early success of SpaceX and Blue Origin in demonstrating their reusable rockets.

“We observe very closely the ongoing revolution in the launcher market, especially here in the United States, around the principle of reusability,” she said. “Europe’s answer is the development of the next-generation of cost effective, reliable and competitive European launchers: Ariane 6 and Vega C.”

The launch orders will be aggregated from the European Commission, ESA, Eumetsat and various national space agencies.

Ariane 6, which is the successor to Ariane 5, is expected to begin flight tests in 2020. The booster is designed to lift payloads weighing up to 10.5 tonnes into geostationary transfer orbit.

The Vega C will be an upgraded version of the Vega booster, which can place payloads weighing up to 2.5 tonnes into orbit. The Vega C’s capacity will be increased by at least 300 kg. The booster will use a first stage engine being developed for Ariane 6.

Read the full story.

Arianespace Streamlines Corporate Governance

PARIS (Arianespace PR) — Arianespace shareholders voted unanimously to convert the launch operator and subsidiary of Airbus Safran Launchers to an SAS (simplified joint-stock company) at the company’s Annual General Meeting, held in Paris on Monday, March 27.

The modification aims to streamline and modernize Arianespace’s governance to achieve greater responsiveness, facilitate relationships with industrial prime contractors, and be coherent with the new shareholder structure of Arianespace Participation.

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Ariane 5 Launch Postponed Due to Striking Workers

Ariane 5 launch (Credit: Arianespace)

Arianespace was forced to canceled a scheduled Ariane 5 launch on Tuesday due to striking workers in French Guiana.

The booster was to have launched the SGDC and Koreasat 7 communications satellites. No new date has been set for the flight.

Workers from Endel Engie, the company tasked with driving the Ariane 5 rocket from its assembly building to the launch pad at the Guiana Space Center, went on strike Monday and prevented the booster’s rollout. A union representative told French media that the strike was called to reopen wage negotiations….

The Endel Engie strike was part of a wider net of protests this week across French Guiana, a lightly-populated French department on the northeastern coast of South America. France Guyane, a local newspaper, reported Thursday that most businesses in Cayenne, the territory’s capital, were closed and large aircraft were prohibited from landing at the city’s airport.

Some schools in French Guiana were also closed this week, and an Air France flight from Paris to Cayenne turned around over the Atlantic Ocean and returned to France on Thursday.

Local workers are protesting high crime rates, hiring practices and economic conditions in French Guiana, along with the proposed privatization of the Kourou Medical and Surgical Center, or CMCK, in the town closest to the space center.

Arianespace issued the follow statement on Thursday.

The evolution of the situation does not permit the restart of operations for the Ariane 5 launch scheduled for today, Thursday, March 23, Arianespace has decided to postpone the launch.

The launch vehicle, with its SGDC and KOREASAT-7 satellite payloads, remain in a stand-by mode and are being maintained in fully safe conditions.

Arianespace Flight VA236 – which is scheduled to launch SGDC for Telebras S.A., performed within the framework of a contract with SGDC prime contractor VISIONA Tecnologia Espacial S.A.; and KOREASAT-7 for ktsat.

 

Arianespace Signed 13 Launch Contracts in Past Year

Flight VS13 was the 13th Soyuz liftoff performed from French Guiana since this vehicle’s 2011 introduction at the Spaceport. (Credit: Arianespace)
Flight VS13 was the 13th Soyuz liftoff performed from French Guiana since this vehicle’s 2011 introduction at the Spaceport. (Credit: Arianespace)

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.

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Orbital Launch Statistics for 2016

The Soyuz MS-02 rocket is launched with Expedition 49 Soyuz commander Sergey Ryzhikov of Roscosmos, flight engineer Shane Kimbrough of NASA, and flight engineer Andrey Borisenko of Roscosmos, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Ryzhikov, Kimbrough, and Borisenko will spend the next four months living and working aboard the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)
The Soyuz MS-02 rocket is launched with Expedition 49 Soyuz commander Sergey Ryzhikov of Roscosmos, flight engineer Shane Kimbrough of NASA, and flight engineer Andrey Borisenko of Roscosmos, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. (Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

Part 2 of 2

There were 85 orbital launches in 2016, not including the Falcon 9 that exploded on launch pad prior to a pre-flight engine test. The launches break down as follow:

  • United States: 22 (22-0)
  • China: 22 (20-1-1)
  • Russia: 19 (18-1)
  • Europe: 9 (9-0)
  • India: 7 (7-0)
  • Japan: 4 (4-0)
  • Israel: 1 (1-0)
  • North Korea: 1 (1-0)

For a more detailed description of these launches, please read US, China Led World in Launches in 2016.

Let’s look at launches by booster and spaceport and the flights that were required for human spaceflight.
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USA, China Led World in Launches in 2016

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the OA-6 mission lifted off from Space Launch Complex 41. (Credit: ULA)
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the OA-6 mission lifted off from Space Launch Complex 41. (Credit: ULA)

Part 1 of 2

The United States and China led the world in orbital launch attempts in 2016 with 22 apiece. The combined 44 launches made up more than half of the 85 flights conducted around the world.

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SpaceX Loses Inmarsat Launch to Arianespace Due to Delays

Arianespace_logoLONDON, 8 December 2016 (Inmarsat PR) — Inmarsat (LSE:ISAT.L), the world’s leading provider of global mobile satellite communications, has today signed a contract with Arianespace to launch its S-band satellite for the European Aviation Network (EAN) on an Ariane 5 heavy lift launch vehicle.  The EAN payload is part of a ‘condosat’ constructed by Thales Alenia Space, which incorporates a second payload for Hellas-Sat.  The condosat is scheduled to be launched from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana in mid-2017.

The condosat was originally scheduled for launch with SpaceX.  However, following the delay in SpaceX’s launch schedule, Inmarsat and Hellas-Sat took the decision to move the condosat to an Arianespace launch.

Inmarsat will launch Inmarsat-5 F4, a Global Xpress (GX) satellite, with SpaceX.  This launch is planned for H1 2017 and Inmarsat is looking forward to continuing to work with SpaceX going forward.

“We are delighted with flexibility that Arianespace has shown in being able to provide a launch slot that enables us to place our European Aviation Network S-band satellite in orbit by mid-2017,” said Michele Franci, CTO, Inmarsat. “This launch schedule supports the introduction of our ground-breaking integrated satellite and air-to-ground network, developed by Inmarsat and Deutsche Telekom, which will deliver a very high capacity broadband Wi-Fi experience for passengers flying throughout Europe.”

Airbus Safran Launchers Buys CNES Shares of Arianespace

Arianespace_logoPARIS (Arianespace PR) — On Wednesday, November 30, 2016, Airbus Safran Launchers and the CNES French space agency announced that Airbus Safran Launchers is acquiring the stake in Arianespace held by CNES.

Airbus Safran Launchers, a joint venture between Airbus Defence and Space and Safran, becomes the majority shareholder in Arianespace, with 74% of its share capital. The stakes held by the other shareholders, from the European launcher industry, remain unchanged.

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SpaceX: Giant Leaps, Deep Troughs But No Plateaus

Credit: USLaunchReport.com
Credit: USLaunchReport.com

Out of the blue and into the black
They give you this, but you pay for that
And once you’re gone, you can never come back
When you’re out of the blue and into the black.

My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)
Neil Young

In his book, “Mastery,” George Leonard provides a fascinating explanation of how people master new skills.

The mastery curve (Credit: George Leonard)
The mastery curve (Credit: George Leonard)

“There’s really no way around it. Learning any new skill involves relatively brief spurts of progress, each of which is followed by a slight decline to a plateau somewhat higher in most cases than that which preceded it,” Leonard writes. “The curve above is not necessarily idealized. In the actual learning experience, progress is less regular; the upward spurts vary; the plateaus have their own dips and rises along the way. But the general progression is almost always the same.”

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Launches This Week: Falcon 9, Ariane 5 & New Shepard

BE-3 restarted at 3,635 feet above ground level and ramped fast for a successful landing. (Credit: Blue Origin)
BE-3 restarted at 3,635 feet above ground level and ramped fast for a successful landing. (Credit: Blue Origin)

UPCOMING LAUNCHES

Wednesday, June 15
Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payloads: Eutelsat 117 West B & ABS 2A
Launch Window: 1429-1513 GMT (10:29-11:13 am EDT)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Webcast: www.spacex.com

Thursday, June 16
Launch Vehicle: Ariane 5
Payloads: EchoStar 18 & BRIsat
Launch Window: 2030-2115 GMT (4:30-5:15 pm EDT)
Launch Site: Kourou, French Guiana

Friday, June 17
Launch Vehicle: New Shepard
Payload: New Shepard capsule
Launch Window: TBA
Launch Site: Corn Ranch, Texas
Webcast: TBA

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FAA Releases Annual Compendium of Commercial Space Transportation

faa_compendium_2016The Annual Compendium of Commercial Space Transportation: 2016

Executive Summary

The size of the global space industry, which combines satellite services and ground equipment, government space budgets, and global navigation satellite services (GNSS) equipment, is estimated to be about $324 billion. At $95 billion in revenues, or about 29 percent, satellite television represents the largest segment of activity. Following this is government space budgets at $76 billion, or 24 percent, and services enabled by GNSS represent, about $76 billion in revenues. Commercial satellite remote sensing companies generated on $1.6 billion in revenues, but the value added services enabled by these companies is believed to be magnitudes larger. Because remote sensing value added services includes imagery and data analytics from other sources beyond space-based platforms, only the satellite remote sensing component is included in the global space industry total.

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