6 February 2014 – Ariane 5 has been successfully launched from Kourou, French Guiana, for the 58th time in a row, once again confirming the reliability of the European launcher developed and built by Airbus Defence and Space, the world’s number two space technology company. This launch brings Airbus Defence and Space one step closer to delivering its Comcept system. Awarded by the French defence procurement agency DGA, the development of Comcept is set to draw on the additional Ka-broadband satellite capability brought to the French armed forces.
The required performance for this, the 216th Ariane flight – for which Arianespace conducted launch operations – was 10,214 kg in geostationary transfer orbit, including 9,410 kg for the two satellites, ABS2 and Athena-Fidus, on board. The remaining mass was for SYLDA dual launch system and satellite integration hardware.
“This 58th successful launch in a row confirms the outstanding industrial capabilities of the business line Space Systems within Airbus Defence and Space as prime contractor since 2003, and its ability to use its experience to implement the industrial organisation for future European launchers,” said Francois Auque, Head of Space Systems. “We would like to thank Arianespace, which commercialises launches and operates the range of European launcher systems at the Guiana Space Centre, as well as all our industrial and institutional partners.”
Airbus Defence and Space has been overseeing Ariane 5’s industrial network since 2003, covering more than 550 companies (more than 20% of them SMEs) in 12 European countries. Airbus Defence and Space also manages the entire industrial supply chain, from the manufacture of equipment and stages to the complete integration of the launcher in French Guiana, in line with the customer’s specifications. Drawing on the expertise the company has acquired and the investments it has made in this near 10-year period, Ariane 5 has become the most reliable commercial launcher on the global market and has increased its geostationary orbit payload capacity by nearly one metric tonne. A flagship of European know-how, the Ariane 5 launcher has been specifically designed to carry heavy payloads into space.
Arianespace launched 2 satellites: ABS2 and the French-Italian satellite Athena-Fidus, for which Airbus Defence and Space is providing one of the first digital military ultra-fast satellite communications networks, Comcept.
The Comcept system will allow the French armed forces to join their counterparts from the United States and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in a very select group of armed forces with military Ka-band networks.
In 2013, Airbus Defence and Space was awarded the Comcept contract to provide French armed forces with the system to access broadband satellite capacity, complementary to the one provided by the French Ministry of Defence’s existing Syracuse system.
Through Comcept, the French army, air force and navy will benefit from a network of fixed and deployable ground stations, the latter deployable both in France and in theatres of operation, allowing them to exchange data, videos and telephone communications using latest-generation, full-IP (Internet Protocol) technology. The contract also provides for the option of equipping vehicles, ships, planes and drones with mobile stations.
Airbus Defence and Space is the prime contractor for Comcept and is also responsible for the engineering and testing of the system. Its partner Actia Sodielec – which specialises in satellite telecommunications and supplies the French Ministry of Defence – is overseeing the engineering, integration and operational maintenance of the ground stations.
Airbus Defence and Space has unique expertise in new Ka-band satellite communications networks, acquired notably through its work on the UAE’s Yahsat system and Eutelsat’s KA-SAT satellite. The Comcept contract, which will run for 17 years, will be compatible with future commercial satellite networks operating in Ka-band, and will provide global coverage.