Arianespace Wins Key Spanish Military Deal

By | September 25, 2002 | Feature

Spanish military operator Hisdesat has inked a deal with Arianespace to launch Spain’s first military satellite, SPAINSAT. The deal serves to emphasise the growing importance of military satellite communications to European security.

Patrick Rudloff, director of international and institutional affairs, Arianespace told Interspace: “It is a very, very important contract. We grant a lot of significance to it. It was at the end of an international competition and Spain selected a European launcher. It reinforces the position of Arianespace on the international market concerning defence missions. There are other pending programmes in Europe at NATO.” Rudloff declined to disclose how much the Spanish deal is worth.

This contract is especially important for Arianespace because its opportunities in military satellite communications have so far been limited. “The situation is different between the U.S. and Europe for governmental programmes. When taxpayers finance a space programme, a ‘Buy American Act’ prevails in the U.S., leading to the selection of a U.S. launcher. The U.S. government market is closed to competition and a European launcher is not allowed to make proposal.” He continued: “On the other hand, Europe is an open market … for governmental missions and even military space programmes.”

SPAINSAT, scheduled to be launched by an Ariane 5 in 2004, will take over the Secomsat military payloads on the commercial Hispasat 1A and IB satellites. SPAINSAT will be fitted with 13 X-band transponders, plus one Ka-band transponder and will be positioned at 30 degrees West.

For Arianespace, the deal is crucial given the difficult market conditions. Rudloff observed: “[The market] will grow for two main reasons. For the time being in Europe, there are several military satellite programmes in Europe, as well as Earth observation satellite programmes going on. In addition to that, the commercial market is also very low, so military takes on greater importance today.”

Arianespace has launched 23 military satellites, either for communications or earth observation. These are either dedicated or dual-use satellites with civilian and military payloads. The French launch company derives around 100 million euros ($98 million) annually from the military satellite communications part of its business. Arianespace has four other satellite launches in the military and earth observation area pending – Optus C1 for Australia, Helios 2A and Syracuse for France, as well as SPAINSAT. –Mark Holmes

(Patrick Rudloff, Arianespace. P.rudloff@arianespace.fr)

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