• Worth €112 million, this contract will enable the design of the Ariane 5 ME’s new sub-systems
• Ariane 5 ME will decrease by 20% costs per kilo carried, thanks to performance earnings of 20% for the same price as the A5 ECA launcher
• The final development phase set to be given the go-ahead at the next ESA Ministerial Council meeting, scheduled for November 2012
10 April 2012 – Airbus Defence and Space, Europe’s leading space technology company, has been awarded a contract by the European Space Agency (ESA) to pursue development of the Ariane 5 Midlife Evolution (A5 ME) launcher. The decision on the final development phase of Ariane 5 ME will be taken by the ESA member states at the upcoming Ministerial Council meeting slated 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 being launched in a single flight.
The main upgrade for the Ariane 5 launcher is a new upper stage equipped with a Vinci® restartable cryogenic engine developed by SNECMA (Safran Group). The nose fairing will also be extended by three meters to accommodate larger and heavier payloads.
Ariane 5 ME will thus boost launch capacity by 20% compared to the current Ariane 5 ECA and Ariane 5 ES, for the same price. Meaning costs are reduced by 20% per kilo. Airbus Defence and Space’s unique role as an end-to-end prime contractor for Ariane 5 since 2003 has generated the added value that drives down costs.
“This €112 million contract underscores that maturity of the Ariane 5ME programme,” said Alain Charmeau, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space. “As prime contractor, Airbus Defence and Space will continue to coordinate the work of more than 30 companies across Europe, with whom we have already completed major phases in the development of a launcher that anticipates the needs of both commercial and European institutional markets.”
This new contract, as well as the additional activities currently in the contracting stage, will enable the development of the Ariane 5 ME to continue until the November 2012 ESA Ministerial Council meeting to decide on the start of the next phases in the project.
The ESA awarded Airbus Defence and Space an initial two-year development contract worth €150 million in December 2009.
In December 2011, the ESA validated the Ariane 5 Midlife Evolution launcher project following the Preliminary Design Review. More than 100 European specialists in different fields have approved the development plan and specifications for the various sub-systems of the launcher.
The acceptance of the Preliminary Definition Review, which began on 31 August 2011, was a major step in the launcher validation process, and for the new upper stage in particular, and provided the green light for the Ariane 5 ME development programme.
And lastly, on 12 March, Airbus Defence and Space and Air Liquide announced the creation of EuroCryospace, a strategic partnership that will focus on the development and manufacture of cryogenic fuel tanks, in particular the fuel tank for the upper stage of the Ariane 5 ME, to be produced at a new plant in Bremen.
As soon as the 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.
Click on the following link to access to the Ariane 5 ME animation:
About Airbus Defence and Space
Airbus Defence and Space is the number one company in Europe for space technologies and the third in the world. In 2011, Airbus Defence and Space had a turnover close to €5 billion and 18,000 employees worldwide, mainly in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and the Netherlands.
Airbus Defence and Space is the sole European company that covers the whole range of civil and defence space systems and services.
Its three business units are: Airbus Defence and Space for launchers and orbital infrastructure; Airbus Defence and Space for spacecraft and ground segment; Airbus Defence and Space for comprehensive fixed and mobile end-to-end solutions covering secure and commercial satcoms and networks, high security and broadcast satellite communications equipment and systems, and bespoke geo-information services, worldwide.
Airbus Defence and Space is a wholly owned subsidiary of AIRBUS Group, a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2011, the Group – comprising Airbus, Airbus Defence and Space, Cassidian and Eurocopter – generated revenues of € 49.1 billion and employed a workforce of over 133,000.
Jeremy Close (Airbus Defence and Space UK) Tel.: +44 (0)1 438 77 3872
Gregory Gavroy (Airbus Defence and Space FR) Tel.: +33 (0) 1 77 75 80 32
Mathias Pikelj (Airbus Defence and Space GER) Tel.: +49 (0) 7545 8 9123
Francisco Lechón (Airbus Defence and Space SP) Tel.: +34 91 586 37 41