Arianespace, the company that markets and launches the Ariane rockets, and lead-contractor Astrium Space Transportation are increasing the Ariane 5 production rate, from five to seven a year from 2008 onwards.
In an agreement signed on Thursday, in Bremen Germany, Arianespace CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall and Astrium Space Transportation President Evert Dudok committed to the investments needed to supply seven Ariane 5 ECA launchers per year, beginning in February 2008.
The agreement also provides the possibility to perform an additional (8th) mission annually in a specific Ariane 5 version – for instance to orbit the large Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), which is to service the International Space Station.
By increasing the production rate, Arianespace will be able to keep pace with growing demand within the launch services marketplace, in which the provider of launch services claims to be market leader with a market share of more than 50%.
The Ariane 5 ECA rocket is usually capable of launching two geostationary satellites into their initial, transfer-orbit, from which they travel to the Clarke Belt. (DK)