After completing 11 successful launches and signing 13 new launch contracts in 2016, Arianespace says it is looking ahead to 2017 with confidence, determined to retain its leading position on the commercial launch services market. Milestones over the past year included the adoption of a new governance structure for the European launcher industry and confirmation of the upcoming Ariane 6 and Vega C launcher programmes.
On its seventh flight of the year on 21st December, Ariane 5 chalked up its 76th successful launch in a row since 2003 and set new two payload performance records, each time carrying over 10,700kg into geostationary transfer orbit (GTO). Arianespace orbited 27 payloads during the year from the CSG with a total cumulated mass of 61.4t, setting a new record versus the 25 satellites launched in 2012.
Arianespace kicked off the new year with two new Ariane 5 launch contracts for telecommunications satellites: JCSAT-17, which will be the 20th SKY Perfect JSAT satellite entrusted to Arianespace, with a launch planned in 2019; and Intelsat 39, which is scheduled for a 2018 launch.
Despite a slowdown in the telecom satellite market and increasingly aggressive price competition over the past year, the company has booked orders worth €1.1bn during this period. Ariane 5 won contracts for seven commercial GEO satellites, giving it over 50% of this market. Arianespace’s order book now stands at €5.2bn, representing 55 launches for 32 customers.
A total of 12 launches are planned in 2017, including up to seven with Ariane 5.
At a press conference in Paris on 4th January, Arianespace CEO Stéphane Israël said:
“Benefitting from a new governance and the confirmation of the future Vega C and Ariane 6 launchers, Arianespace is now fully prepared to guarantee independent access to space for Europe, and to continue our leadership in the commercial launch services market for the next decade.”
In a swipe at SpaceX, he noted that Arianespace had met all its commitments to its customers in 2016 and warned that lower prices mean lower quality.