Arianespace Kicks Off Production for Final Ariane 5 Rockets
ArianeGroup and its Arianespace subsidiary have announced an order for 10 Ariane 5 ECA launchers, dubbed the “PC batch.” Arianespace will deploy this last set of Ariane 5 rockets from the Guiana Space Center beginning in 2020, coming after the launches of 18 Ariane 5s ordered in 2013 (the PB+ batch).
According to Arianespace, the order’s size aligns with the ramp-up for the next-generation Ariane 6, which is scheduled to make its first flight in mid-2020, reaching full capacity in 2023. This decision follows the commitment made by Arianespace in December 2016 to initiate the procurement of long lead items. 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 (more than 600 companies in 13 countries, including some 350 small and medium-size enterprises) — to start initial production activity for these additional launchers. This new batch of rockets guarantees durability for launch service offerings by Arianespace for institutional and commercial clients until the end of the transition phase with Ariane 6.
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 (more than 10 tons) into Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO). From this payload lift record, Arianespace aims to increase Ariane 5’s performance by another 250 kg by 2020 — with the PC production batch taking full advantage of the improvement.
“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,” said Luce Fabreguettes, Arianespace executive vice president of missions, operations and purchasing.