Kourou, French Guiana, Feb. 7, 2013—Ariane 5 has been successfully launched from Kourou, French Guiana, for the 54th time in a row, once again confirming the extraordinary reliability of the European launcher developed and built by Astrium, Europe’s leading space technology company.
The required performance for this, the 212th Ariane flight, was 10.317 kg in geostationary orbit, including 9.503 kg for the two satellites, a new record. The remaining weight was for Astrium’s SYLDA dual launch system and for the integration hardware.
The launch was performed by the Ariane 5 ECA launcher, which is capable of placing a dual payload into orbit, thus keeping operating costs down.
A continuous improvement programme led by Astrium in conjunction with the European Space Agency (ESA) has enhanced the launcher's performance, while at the same time pursuing cost savings, and enabling Ariane 5 to set a series of launch mass records into geostationary orbit, such as today's of more than 10.3 tonnes.
The prime contractor of the Ariane 5 European launcher since 2003, Astrium oversees an industrial network comprising more than 550 companies (over 20% of them SMEs) in 12 European countries. Thanks to 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 ton.
Astrium is the number one company in Europe for space technologies and the third in the world. In 2011, Astrium had a turnover close to €5 billion and 18,000 employees worldwide, mainly in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and the Netherlands.
Astrium is the sole European company that covers the whole range of civil and defence space systems and services.
Its three business units are: Astrium Space Transportation for launchers and orbital infrastructure; Astrium Satellites for spacecraft and ground segment; Astrium Services for comprehensive fixed and mobile end-to-end solutions covering secure and commercial satcoms and networks, high security and broadcast satellite communications equipment and systems, and bespoke geo-information services, worldwide.
Astrium is a wholly owned subsidiary of EADS, a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2011, the Group – comprising Airbus, Astrium, Cassidian and Eurocopter – generated revenues of € 49.1 billion and employed a workforce of over 133,000.