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A step forward in Ariane 5 ME development

Airbus Defence and Space awarded ESA contract

Airbus Defence and Space has been awarded a contract by the European Space Agency (ESA) to pursue development of the Ariane 5 Midlife Evolution (A5 ME) launcher. The final development phase set to be given the go-ahead at the next ESA Ministerial Council meeting, scheduled for November 2012.


Ariane 5 ME is a major ESA programme adopted by the Ministerial Council in 2008 and aims to modernise the current Ariane 5 launcher. Based on the ‘two-in-one’ launcher concept, the programme will be capable of placing up to 12 metric tons of payload in geostationary orbit, with two satellites of over five tons launched in a single flight.


Ariane 5 ME will thus boost launch capacity by 20% compared to the current Ariane 5 ECA and Ariane 5 ES versions, for the same price – this means costs are reduced by 20% per kilo. Airbus Defence and Space’s unique role as end-to-end prime contractor for Ariane 5 since 2003 has generated the added value that drives down costs.

This contract underscores the maturity of the Ariane 5 ME programme under Airbus Defence and Space’s prime contractorship.

As soon as the ESA member states make their decision known at the end of 2012, Airbus Defence and Space and its partners will commit to performing the Ariane 5 ME test flight from 2017, allowing Europe to consolidate its access to space.

Press release

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LauncherAriane 5 ME