For the firm's first launch of the year, the Ariane 5 successfully completed the mission from the European space port of Kourou in French Guiana for the 77th consecutive time, placing two telecommunications satellites in Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO).
The launch performance achieved by this Ariane 5 ECA was 10,450 kg in GTO (of which 9,569 kg was accounted for by the satellites). The launcher improvement program enabled the inclination angle to be reduced to 4° in order to minimize the energy the satellites need to reach their final orbit.
Operational in the field of commercial launchers since 2015, Airbus Safran Launchers was definitively completed on July 1, 2016, and became the 74 percent majority shareholder of Arianespace on 31 December 2016. This new governance makes possible an overall approach to market needs from launcher design and construction up to commercialization, thus reinforcing industrial efficiency and operational flexibility for the benefit of Arianespace’s customers. Ariane 5 is the spearhead of European know-how and one of the most wide-ranging and ambitious space programs in the world. Its flexibility enables it to transport heavy payloads into LEO, several satellites into medium Earth orbit or, as it is the case today, one or two satellites into geostationary transfer orbit with an optimized lifetime.
Airbus Safran Launchers is lead contractor for the Ariane 5 launchers. The company coordinates an industrial network of more than 550 companies in 12 European countries (including more than 100 Small and Medium Enterprises). Airbus Safran Launchers oversees the entire industrial chain, from management of launcher performance upgrades, to production management, to final adjustment with supply of the mission flight software and, from now on, its marketing through Arianespace. This chain includes equipment and structures, engines manufacturing, integration of the various stages and finally launcher integration in French Guiana.
Airbus Safran Launchers is also industrial lead contractor for Europe’s future Ariane 6 launcher, which is scheduled for a first flight in 2020 and which will replace Ariane 5 in about 2023.