Astrium Gains ESA Approval for Ariane Project
[Satellite TODAY 12-02-11] Astrium has received confirmation from the European Space Agency (ESA) following its Preliminary Design Review (PDR) that its Ariane 5 Midlife Evolution launcher project has been approved, the company announced Dec. 1.
The primary upgrade for the Ariane 5 launcher is an upper stage equipped with a Vinci restartable cryogenic engine, developed by Snecma (Safran group). The nose fairing will also be extended three meters to accommodate larger and heavier payloads. Ariane 5 ME will be capable of placing up to 12 metric tons of payload in geostationary orbit, boosting the launcher’s capacity by 20 percent compared with the current Ariane 5 ECA.
“The Ariane 5 Midlife Evolution (ME) launcher will be capable of simultaneously placing two satellites of over five tons each in orbit, anticipating the needs of both commercial markets and EU institutions. Customers will be able to benefit from a ‘two-in-one’ launcher for the same price as the current Ariane ECA version, representing a price reduction of 20 percent per launched kilogram,” Alain Charmeau, CEO of Astrium Space Transportation, said in a statement.