Triple success for Astrium

19 December 2012

  • 53rd consecutive successful launch of Ariane 5, and the seventh this year, confirming its status as the most reliable commercial launcher currently in service
  • Three Astrium prime contractorships: Astrium Space Transportation for the Ariane 5 launcher, Astrium Satellites for the Skynet 5D satellite, and Astrium Services for the operation of the Skynet 5 programme on behalf of the UK Ministry of Defence
  • Three Astrium-built satellites launched within a period of less than three weeks: Pléiades 1B, Eutelsat 70B and Skynet 5D

Ariane 5 has been successfully launched from Kourou, French Guiana, for the 53rd time in a row and the seventh time this year, once again confirming the extraordinary reliability of the European launch vehicle under industrial prime contractorship of Astrium, Europe’s leading space technology company. Astrium played a triple role in this launch, responsible for production of the Ariane 5 launcher, the design and manufacture of the Skynet 5D satellite and for the operation of the Skynet 5 programme on behalf of the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD).

Commenting on the launch, Astrium CEO François Auque said: “After Pléiades 1B and Eutelsat 70B, Skynet 5D is the third satellite designed and built by Astrium Satellites to be launched in less than three weeks. Astrium Space Transportation builds Ariane 5, the most reliable commercial launch vehicle currently in service, and Astrium Services will continue to operate the Skynet 5 programme on behalf of the UK Ministry of Defence. With three prime contractorships, this evening’s launch clearly demonstrates Astrium’s broad expertise across the board from launchers to services and satellites. We are the only European company to cover the entire range of civil and military space systems and services.”

Skynet 5D is the fourth satellite in the Skynet 5 programme and will reinforce and extend the operational service already provided by this military telecommunications system. Skynet 5D has increased fuel capacity, enabling the satellite to be repositioned more frequently in orbit, enhancing its ability to respond to the operational requirements of the UK’s armed forces. The satellite has an expected operating life of at least 15 years.

Signed in 2003, Skynet 5 is the MOD’s military satellite telecommunications programme. Astrium Satellites was entrusted with the task of designing and building the satellites, while Astrium Services is responsible for system design and the day-to-day operation of the communication services as part of a public-private partnership.

Skynet 5D is the third satellite manufactured by Astrium to be launched within a period of less than three weeks. It was preceded by Pléiades 1B, launched on 1 December 2012, and Eutelsat 70B, launched on 3 December. Astrium Satellites has delivered nine satellites into orbit this year: Yahsat 1B, SPOT 6, Metop-B, Astra 2F, two Galileo IOV satellites, Pléiades 1B, Eutelsat 70B and Skynet 5D.

The total payload carried aloft by this 211th Ariane flight was 8,637 kg. The two satellites placed in geostationary orbit made up 7,735 kg of this weight, while the rest was accounted for by Astrium’s SYLDA dual launch system and structures to adapt the satellites to the payload bay.

For more information on Astrium, the only European company to cover the entire range of civil and military space systems and services, go to:

About Astrium

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.

Press contacts:

Jeremy Close
Media Relations UK
Astrium United Kingdom
Tel.: +44 1 438 77 3872
Gregory Gavroy
Astrium France
Media Relations France
Tel.: +33 (0) 1 77 75 80 32
Ralph Heinrich
Media Relations Germany
Airbus Defence and Space Germany
Tel.: +49 89 60 73 39 71
Fax: +49 89 60 78 53 39
Francisco Lechon
Media Relations Spain
Airbus Defence and Space Spain
Tel.: +34 91 5 86 37 41
Fax: +34 91 5 86 37 82


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