Airbus Defence and Space

Airbus Defence and Space: prime contractor for all phases of the 51st Ariane 5 launch

  • Airbus Defence and Space is prime contractor for COMS, the "Swiss army knife" of satellites

  • The Arabsat 5A communications satellite to be simultaneously launched by Ariane 5 was also built by Airbus Defence and Space

  • Airbus Defence and Space is responsible for Ariane 5's development and delivery


Kourou, 18 June 2010 – For its upcoming launch, Ariane 5 will deliver in orbit two Airbus Defence and Space-built satellites: the Arabsat 5A communications satellite for Arabsat and the COMS satellite for the Korean Aerospace Research Institute (KARI). The Airbus Defence and Space teams on site at the Guiana Space Centre are busy with final preparations for the scheduled launch of the two satellites on 23 June 2010.


The COMS (Communications, Oceanography and Meteorology Satellite) observation satellite is familiarly known as the "Swiss army knife" because it carries three payloads destined for applications in the fields of meteorology, ocean observation (with 400m resolution) and telecommunications. It is the first geostationary Earth observation satellite with 3-axis stabilisation to be developed and built by a European company.

COMS will provide South Korea with a meteorology imager, an ‘ocean colour’ payload and a Ka-band telecommunications payload.


Arabsat 5A is the fifth Eurostar satellite built by Airbus Defence and Space for Arabsat. The multi-mission satellite will provide additional transmission capacity at the Arabsat 30.5 East position in both C-band and Ku-band for a wide range of satellite communications services. Arabsat 5A is based on the Eurostar E3000 platform and is equipped with a payload that includes 26 active transponders operating in the C-band and another 24 in the Ku-band. The satellite has 12 kW of onboard power and is designed for a service life of 15 years.


Airbus Defence and Space and Thales Alenia Space are acting as co-prime contractors for the satellite's construction and delivery into orbit. Airbus Defence and Space, the team leader, supplied the Eurostar E3000 platform and is responsible for satellite integration with the spacecraft. Thales Alenia Space supplied the communications payload.


A time-tested launch vehicle

Airbus Defence and Space was selected as the sole prime contractor for Ariane 5 in 2003. Airbus Defence and Space delivers the fully assembled and tested launch vehicle to Arianespace, the commercial launch service provider. Airbus Defence and Space also supplies all the Ariane 5 stages, equipment bays, flight software and numerous sub-assemblies.

Airbus Defence and Space oversees the entire industrial chain and is committed to providing its customer with a launcher that offers maximum reliability. It is this unique strategy of industrial collaboration that has allowed the Group to develop such a reliable launch vehicle, which has meanwhile chalked up 36 successful consecutive flights.


About Airbus Defence and Space

Airbus Defence and Space, a wholly owned subsidiary of AIRBUS Group, is dedicated to providing civil and defence space systems and services. In 2009, Airbus Defence and Space had a turnover of €4.8 billion and more than 15,000 employees in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and the Netherlands. Its three main areas of activity are Airbus Defence and Space for launchers and orbital infrastructure, Airbus Defence and Space for spacecraft and ground segment and Airbus Defence and Space for the development and provision of secure and commercial satcoms and networks, high security satellite communications equipment, geo-information products and services, and navigation services.


AIRBUS Group is a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2009, AIRBUS Group generated revenues of €42.8 billion and employed a workforce of more than 119, 000.


Press contacts:

Daniel Mosely (Airbus Defence and Space UK)                                                      Tel.: +44 (0)1 438 77 8180

Matthieu Duvelleroy (Airbus Defence and Space FR)                                              Tel.: +33 (0) 1 77 75 80 32

Ralph Heinrich (Airbus Defence and Space GER)                                                   Tel.: +49 (0) 89 607 33971

Francisco Lechón (Airbus Defence and Space SP)                                                 Tel.: +34 91 586 37 41 



Airbus Defence and SpaceArabsat-5Ariane 5COMS