Applying the full benefits of its launcher family, Arianespace is targeting a total of 12 missions with Ariane 5, Soyuz and Vega in 2013 - maintaining its launch services leadership and building on the company's exceptional performance of the past year.
This was the main message of Arianespace Chairman & CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall during the company's traditional New Year's kickoff press conference, held in Paris today, who underscored both the operational and economic advantages of having its launch vehicle trio in service at the Spaceport.
"As the prime contractor for launch operations in French Guiana, Arianespace has multi-disciplinary teams that can manage missions with all three types of launchers, which creates synergies and reduces operational costs," he told international reporters.
The company's 2013 scheduling calls for 11 missions from the Spaceport - six heavy-lift Ariane 5 launches, four medium-lift Soyuz flights and one with the light-lift Vega - along with a Soyuz liftoff at Kazakhstan's Baikonur Cosmodrome, operated under the responsibility of Arianespace's Euro-Russian Starsem subsidiary.
"Looking at the Spaceport operations, Ariane 5 continues as the workhorse launcher, Soyuz has been working like clockwork since its introduction at French Guiana in October 2011, while Vega scored an on-target maiden flight during 2012 - which is a real achievement when compared with other launcher introductions in our industry," Le Gall explained.
Arianespace's 2013 launch activity begins next month with a Starsem Soyuz mission at Baikonur Cosmodrome, carrying six Globalstar second-generation constellation satellites on February 4. The Spaceport's year-opening flight is planned on February 7, using an Ariane 5 to loft the Amazonas 3 and Azerspace/Africasat-1a telecommunications satellites.
The four Soyuz missions from French Guiana this year will carry a variety of passengers that highlight the Russian launcher's flexibility in Spaceport operations, including two missions with four satellites each for O3b Networks, and two flights with a pair of Galileo FOC (Full Operational Capability) satellites each. Also scheduled at the Spaceport are Soyuz launches with Europe's star-mapping Gaia satellite, and a Sentinel spacecraft for the European Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) program.
Le Gall noted that in addition to an exceptional 2012 for operational performance - 10 flights performed from the Spaceport with Ariane 5, Soyuz and Vega, plus a Starsem Soyuz mission from Baikonur Cosmodrome - Arianespace had a strong year in terms of new business. The 10 contracts signed for commercial satellite payloads to be delivered to GTO (geostationary transfer orbit) represented a 60 percent share of this market worldwide in 2012, and were in addition to a new order inked for a dedicated medium Earth orbit mission with Galileo satellites.
The resulting strong payload backlog continues to provide Arianespace with the launch activity equivalent of three years, representing a total order backlog of 4 billion euros.
"By any measure, Arianespace is a success in partnership with the participating European nations and their companies, and we will continue to set our sights on remaining no. 1 in the industry - employing some 10,000 persons in Europe and French Guiana while maintaining the innovation," Le Gall concluded.