With this latest order, there are now 23 Ariane 5 launchers in production or to be produced, from the PB+ and PC batches. With this latest "PC batch," the industry confirms its commitment to consolidate the competitiveness of the European launch offer even before the arrival of Ariane 6.
The decision announced today follows the commitment made by Arianespace in December 2016 to initiate the procurement of long lead items (LLI1). It also allows ArianeGroup, industrial prime contractor for the development and operation of the Ariane 5 and Ariane 6 launchers – as well as its European partners (over 600 companies in 13 countries¹, including some 350 small and medium-size enterprises) – to start initial production activity for these additional launchers.
This new batch also guarantees the durability for launch service offerings by the European operator Arianespace for institutional and commercial clients until the end of the transition phase with Ariane 6 – with this launcher's full operational capacity to be reached by 2023. Ariane 5, which chalked up its 82nd successful launch in a row in December 2017, has undergone continuous performance improvements since the beginning of the Ariane 5 ECA program. As a result, Ariane 5 set a new record in June 2017 by lofting 10,865 kg. into geostationary transfer orbit (GTO). From this payload lift record, Ariane 5's performance will be increased another 250 kg. by 2020 as part of an ESA-funded program – with the PC production batch taking full advantage of the improvement.
After the announcement of the PC batch production order, Luce Fabreguettes, the Arianespace Executive Vice President – Missions, Operations and Purchasing, said: "With the production go-ahead for these 10 new launchers, Arianespace proudly leverages the exceptional performance, reliability and availability of Ariane 5 to deliver the best possible launch service for its customers, while also guaranteeing Europe's independent access to space. Along with our partners, this new contract ensures that we will have the best conditions to succeed in the operational transition from Ariane 5 to Ariane 6 for the benefit of all our customers."
ArianeGroup CEO Alain Charmeau, commenting on this new step, which begins the transition between Ariane 5 and Ariane 6, said: "This production kickoff of 10 new Ariane 5 ECA represents, for the European industry, a total of more than 1 billion euros. This also allows us to continue capitalizing on the exceptional levels of quality and punctuality that have made Ariane 5 so successful, while being consistent with the rapid market introduction of Ariane 6."
¹ 12 European countries are involved in the industrialization of Ariane 5, 13 for Ariane 6.
² The raw materials and unmachined elements are required to be ordered ahead of time