Arianespace has taken delivery of its next mission’s second satellite (India’s GSAT-31) which will join Saudi Arabia’s HellasSat-4 craft which arrived a few days ago. The Ariane 5 launch is currently scheduled for February 5th (weather permitting).
The launch also starts another year of launch campaigns for Arianespace which reported a flat 2018 in terms of revenues (€1.4 billion), and which was much the same as 2017. Worse, perhaps, is that Arianespace’s all-important backlog of contracted launches has fallen significantly, by 16 per cent (y-o-y).
In other words, Arianespace is hoping for a better 2019. However, the statistics are worrying. For example, Arianespace says that 22 GEO satellites were up for launch bids back in 2015. It takes about 3 years from a satellite build contract being awarded before launch. In 2016 just 15 satellites were open to bid for launch, and just 8 last year.
This altogether miserable position has done no favours for satellite builder Maxar/Space System-Loral which is prepared to exit the market for GEO craft.
Those satellites ordered are also subject to fiercely competitive launch contracts, with SpaceX and Russia’s Proton launch system all competing vigorously with Arianespace for what has been a dwindling source of business. Arianespace does benefit from European-focused science and meteo missions (much as SpaceX benefits from NASA contracts).