22 March 2014 – Ariane 5 has been successfully launched from Kourou, French Guiana, for the 59th time in a row, further underlining the reliability of the European launcher developed and built by its prime contractor Airbus Defence and Space, number two worldwide in space technologies. For this launch the company also was the prime contractor of ASTRA 5B, one of the two satellites on board, which was designed and built for the European operator SES.
The required performance for this, the 217th Ariane flight, was 9,468 kg in geostationary orbit, including 8,662 kg for the two satellites (ASTRA 5B and Amazonas 4A). The remaining weight consisted of Airbus Defence and Space’s Sylda dual launch system and structures for adapting the satellites.
“This 59th consecutive successful launch is a double success, providing further proof of the exceptional reliability of our industrial organisation, both as the prime contractor for Ariane 5 and future European launchers and as a manufacturer of telecommunications satellites such as ASTRA 5B, whose Eurostar E3000 platform is now celebrating ten years of success in orbit,” said François Auque, Head of Space Systems. “We would like to express our gratitude to Arianespace, which markets the launches and operates the range of European launch systems at the Guiana Space Centre, and to all our industrial and institutional partners.”
As the prime contractor for the Ariane launchers, the company has overseen the industrial network of the Ariane 5 programme since 2003, which comprises more than 550 companies (over 20 percent of them Small and Middle-sized enterprises -SMEs) in 12 European countries. Airbus Defence and Space also manages the entire industry 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 ten-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 tonne. A flagship of European know-how, the Ariane 5 launcher has been specifically designed to carry heavy payloads into space.
The company has also built more than 100 telecommunications satellites as prime contractor, including 33 as part of the Eurostar 3000 platform. ASTRA 5B will be the eighth Eurostar E3000 satellite in the SES fleet to be placed in orbit, following the launches of ASTRA 2F in September 2012, SES-6 in June 2013 and ASTRA 2E in September 2013. A further Eurostar E3000 satellite for SES (ASTRA 2G) is currently undergoing the final integration phase and tests at Airbus Defence and Space facilities, with work having also begun on the design of the SES-10, the newest member the SES fleet, ordered in February 2013.