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Europe's Arianespace Satellite Launcher Hits Cruising Speed

Paris (AFP) Jan 09, 2006
The chief executive of European satellite launcher Arianespace is bristling with confidence at the start of the new year after a record 2005 and the re-birth of the company's troublesome Ariane-5 ECA craft.

"The difficulties are definitely behind us. In 2005, Arianespace refound its cruising speed," chief executive Jean-Yves Le Gall told journalists last Wednesday.

In 2005, Arianespace, the world's biggest satellite launcher, and Starsem, a European-Russian subsidiary, put 11 satellites into orbit - "a world record", according to Le Gall, and "more than all of our competitors combined".

Ariane completed five flights to launch the satellites and the Starsem-controlled Soyuz rockets flew three missions.

The renewed optimism of Le Gall stems from the return of the Ariane-5 ECA, which had failed its first flight in December 2002, plunging Arianespace into difficulties.

The launcher, a heavier version of the Ariane rocket, entered service last February.

"A lot of people doubted our capacity to fly again in 2005," Le Gall said before adding that Arianespace "again has a new range of completely operational launchers".

The company, which counts the French space agency and European space and defence company EADS among its clients, expects to make a net profit for the third year running of "several million euros" in 2005, Le Gall said.

Sales would be 1.05 billion euros (1.27 billion dollars) compared with 657 million euros in 2004, he added.

The company is committed to defending its position as number one in the world market in the face of competition from Russian rivals, as well as the emergence of competitors in China and India.

Arianespace has orders for the launch of 42 satellites -- 37 for Ariane-5 and five for Starsem -- and is now benefiting from the end of a price war between satellite launchers that began as Arianespace was at its lowest ebb in 2003.

"Some of our competitors started a price war that we don't see anymore. Comparing the prices of 2003 and today, there has been an increase of 30-40 percent," said Le Gall.

Furthermore, the company was given a boost at the beginning of December when ministers from countries belonging to the European Space Agency (ESA) agreed to prioritise European satellite launchers over cheaper options in other countries.

European satellite operators will have recourse to non-European satellite launchers only if the price in Europe is more than 25 percent higher than an alternative elsewhere, or if their technical needs cannot be met in Europe.

In 2006, Arianespace plans to launch five or six satellites with Ariane rockets and three with Soyuz launchers.

In the longer term, the company hopes to complete about 10 launches in 2010 with "five or six launches by Ariane, two to three by Soyuz and one to two by Vega", a smaller cousin of Ariane that is expected to make its first flight at the end of 2007.

The project to build a new launchpad for Soyuz rockets in French Guyana, from where Ariane rockets are currently launched, is advancing with speed, Le Gall said, with the first launch expected on November 21, 2008.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Telematic Solutions Awarded EUR8Mn Contract For Vega Pad Work In Kourou,
Kourou, French Guiana (SPX) Dec 28, 2005
Telematics Solutions S.p.A., Milan, a subsidiary of OHB Technology AG, has today been awarded a contract worth EUR 8 million from Italian company Vitrociset S.p.A., Rome. In signing the contract, Telematics Solutions has assumed a leading role in the development and implementation of the complex telecommunications network and security system for the launch pad for the VEGA launcher in Kourou, French Guiana.

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