Arianespace cuts launch prices

Europe’s primary satellite launch company, Arianespace, is cutting the price of its launch vehicles. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Arianespace’s prices are being trimmed in direct response to the lower prices available in the market from rivals SpaceX and Russia-backed International Launch Services.

SpaceX openly publishes its launch fees, which are from $61.2 million to $85 million per launch. There are also discounts available for multiple bookings, which is the reason behind the June 2nd decision by London-based Inmarsat to book 3 SpaceX flights.

Asia Broadcast Satellite is another fan of SpaceX despite seeing one of its satellites launched by Arianespace earlier this year. Nevertheless, it has booked SpaceX for its next four launches citing lower costs and greater flexibility.

But Arianespace will cut prices only so far, and will always charge more than rivals, said Arianespace’s CEO Stephane Isräel. “We won’t engage in a price war.”

The unstated reason that Arianespace’s hands are tied is that its launch costs are near  double the fees charged by SpaceX, and yet Arianespace is still barely profitable.

Arianespace is redesigning its workhorse Ariane 5 rocket, and a new, lower cost/flight Ariane 6 will arrive in a few years and the aim is to lower launch costs to nearer $70 million, while a larger version of Ariane 5, capable of launching two large satellites at a time will also help trim costs.

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