ArianeGroup orders up final 10 A-5 rockets

Arianespace has contracted orders for ten of the current Ariane 5-ECA rockets. They will be in use from its French Guiana launch site from 2020 once the existing stock (ordered back in 2013) has been used.

This batch of contracts will bridge the gap while the next-generation Ariane 6 rockets start coming on stream during 2020 and will be in full use by 2023.

The existing Ariane 5 suite of rockets have been hugely successful for Arianespace, and made their 82nd successful flight just before Christmas. In June 2017 an Ariane lofted 10,865 kgs into orbit, their heaviest-ever cargo.

Economically, ArianeGroup is not quite doing so well. Revenues for 2017 were 7 per cent down although not helped by currency pressures from the US dollar which fluctuated by as much as 14 per cent last year against the Euro. Some two-thirds of Ariane’s ‘orders’ are priced in US dollars, which just about all of its components are paid for in Euros.

Revenues were about €1.3 billion ($1.56bn) and down from €1.4 billion in 2016. Last year’s contracts were worth €1.1 billion and Ariane’s backlog measures some €5 billion. However, last year saw Arianespace suffer a 44-day shut-down at the French Guiana spaceport due to strike action.

Launch contracts are more or less a battle between Arianespace and arch-rival SpaceX, with a few challenges from Russia’s International Launch Services and China. Arianespace calculates that it won 50 per cent of the open market orders for satellite launches, totalling eight craft (and matching the tally for SpaceX).

For 2018 Arianespace is anticipating 14 launches in total (made up of seven Ariane 5s, thee Vega small rockets, and four Soyuz vehicles).

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