Arianespace Aims To Consolidate Position (Feb. 11)
Arianespace is ready to maintain its global launch services leadership role in 2002, consolidating the company's position as the marketplace sees greater competition and the telecommunication sector continues to consolidate.
This was the message of Arianespace Chairman and CEO Jean-Marie Luton at the company's annual U.S. media briefing, conducted today in Washington, D.C. and attended by international reporters from the specialized and general press.
Against the backdrop of lower launch demand and greater competition, Arianespace will have a new opportunity to demonstrate the competitiveness of its offering," Luton told reporters at the press breakfast.
"We boast a number of assets in our drive to maintain global leadership in 2002, including our in-depth knowledge of the market, the fact that we are the only provider to cover all market requirements for any size of satellite, Ariane 5's operational flexibility and headstart over its competitors, as well as the high quality of our launch facilities in French Guiana," he added.
At the breakfast, Luton announced Arianespace's first launch services commitment of 2002: the Satmex 6 satellite for Mexican satellite operator Satélites Mexicanos S.A. de C.V. (Satmex). An Ariane 5 will orbit this 6-metric-ton-class spacecraft in the first quarter of 2003. Carrying 36 C-band and 24 Ku-band transponders, Satmex 6 will operate from an orbital position of 109.2 degrees West to bolster Satmex's telecommunications and Internet capacity for all of Mexico, as well as parts of North and Latin America.
Satmex 6 is being built by U.S. manufacturer Space Systems/Loral at its Palo Alto, California facility, adding another North American-produced satellite to Arianespace's orderbook. It was the 245th satellite committed for Arianespace launch since the company's creation in 1980.
Arianespace: A long-term partner for the U.S. satellite industry
Luton underscored the company's role as an integral partner of the U.S. satellite industry. In 2002, 10 of the satellites to be launched by Arianespace are for U.S. operators or were built by U.S. manufacturers. In Arianespace's 21-year history, nearly 60 percent of satellites it orbited were produced in the U.S. and the company has provided launch services for nearly every U.S. satellite operator -- representing 25-30 percent of its client base.
Clayton Mowry, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Arianespace, Inc. subsidiary, added that Arianespace's operational experience and the availability of its operational Ariane 5 heavy-lift vehicle provide the company with a strong competitive edge. He noted that in 2001, Arianespace placed eight commercial satellites into geostationary orbit in what had been a slow year for the company.
"In 2001, no U.S. rocket was used to place a commercial satellite in geostationary orbit -- so it's easy to have a 100-percent mission success rate if you don't launch any geostationary commercial satellites," Mowry said. "Equally important, International Launch Services and Boeing Launch Systems used their Russian vehicles to complete only two commercial geostationary launches each."
While Arianespace has been busy booking commercial contracts for the Ariane 5, Boeing and Lockheed have been struggling to sign up orders for Delta IV and the Atlas V, he added.
"Press reports indicate that Lockheed Martin is lobbying for hundreds of millions of dollars in government subsidies to keep the Atlas V programs alive given its lack of commercial contracts," Mowry said. "Atlas V isn't scheduled for government launches until 2005, and appears to only have three or four commercial launches lined up. That could lead to only one or two commercial flights a year! At the same time Delta IV's maiden flight has already been delayed several times, and it has few commercial orders as well."
While the initial flight of Atlas V is currently scheduled for early May and Delta IV's first flight is foreseen in mid-July, Mowry pointed out the upcoming Ariane 5 flight on February 28 will be this new-generation's heavy-lift vehicle's 11th mission.
A head start of several years for Ariane 5 over its competitors
"Ariane 5 has already launched 10 commercial satellites into orbit, and without a doubt, this launcher is head-and-shoulders above the Delta IV and Atlas V 'test vehicles' flying today or which will be flying in the future," Mowry said. "Ariane 5 is a proven launcher with a head start of several years over its American competitors.
Ariane 5's capabilities will be further improved beginning this summer when Ariane 4's proven third stage is introduced as a new upper stage for the heavy-lift launcher. The use of this stage will increase Ariane 5's capacity into geostationary transfer orbit to 10 metric tons, confirming the launcher's status as the most capable heavy-lift commercial rocket in the world, Mowry stated.
"The 'Ariane Ten Ton' will allow us to compete more aggressively," Mowry said. "We can be more competitive because we are the only launch provider that has mastered the art of dual manifesting -- which allows us to lower costs and increase the efficiency of our Ariane 5 family."
Ariane 5's 10-ton capacity should rapidly become the industry benchmark, ensuring that Arianespace is the only launch services provider capable of meeting all customer payload launch requirements -- no matter a satellite's size and weight.
"Moreover, our enhanced launch capability is supported by the brand-new S5 payload processing complex in French Guiana," Mowry added. This unmatched facility was inaugurated last July, and it currently is being used for the processing and checkout of Europe's large Envisat satellite payload -- which will be orbited on Ariane 5's February 28 mission.
Arianespace: Maintaining Leadership In An Increasingly Competitive Marketplace