Airbus Defence and Space

Ariane 5 launch: double success for Airbus Defence and Space

- Ariane 5’s 66th successful launch in a row has placed Europe’s latest weather satellite in orbit testifying to the reliability of the European launch system
- This launch carries the fourth SEVIRI, the best geostationary weather instrument in operation

Ariane 5 has been successfully launched from Kourou, French Guiana, for the 66th time in a row, placing in orbit the fourth Meteosat Second Generation (MSG-4) satellite, over 50% of which was built by Airbus Defence and Space, the world’s second largest space company. The company’s most outstanding contribution to MSG-4 is the SEVIRI instrument, considered as the most capable weather instrument in geostationary orbit. Thales Alenia Space is prime contractor for all the Meteosat satellites since the start.


“This has been a great moment for us. The 224th Ariane rocket, representing one of Airbus Defence and Space’s greatest success stories, has just launched MSG-4, Europe’s latest weather satellite. MSG-4 features our state of the art SEVIRI instrument as well as a host of our space proven subsystems to ensure reliability – bringing space down to Earth for the benefit of everyone,” said François Auque, Head of Space Systems.


The SEVIRI (Spinning Enhanced Visible and Infrared Imager) instrument is an imaging radiometer that was designed and developed by Airbus Defence and Space. The instrument observes weather phenomena in the visible and infrared spectra across a third of the Earth’s surface. This is the fourth SEVIRI instrument built for MSG and the 11th radiometer designed and developed by Airbus Defence and Space for the Meteosat constellation, the first instruments of which operated in space for up to 19 years. Since the first model began operating in orbit in 2004, SEVIRI has become a global benchmark in the design of the next generation of radiometers. It is the most reliable weather instrument currently in geostationary orbit.


MSG-4 will allow EUMETSAT, the European organisation for the exploitation of meteorological satellites, to guarantee continuity of the MSG service for more than 10 years.


The satellite is the last of the Meteosat Second Generation satellites resulting from the successful cooperation between EUMETSAT and the European Space Agency (ESA).


The main application of the Meteosat service from geostationary orbit is very short-range forecasting of high impact weather. The service also delivers unique inputs to weather prediction models, complementing the primary inputs delivered by the polar-orbiting MetOp satellites, which are also built by Airbus Defence and Space.


Airbus Defence and Space is a 50% shareholder in Airbus Safran Launchers and is the main industrial contributor to the Ariane 5 programme, one of the largest and most ambitious space programmes in the world. The industrial network brings together more than 550 companies (more than 20% of which are SMEs) in 12 European countries.  Drawing on the expertise the company has acquired and the investments it has made over more than 10 years, Ariane 5 has become the most reliable commercial launcher on the global market and has increased its geostationary orbit payload capacity by almost two tonnes. Representing cutting-edge European expertise, the Ariane 5 launcher has been specially designed to inject heavy payloads into orbit.



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Airbus Defence and Space

Airbus Defence and Space is a division of Airbus Group formed by combining the business activities of Cassidian, Astrium and Airbus Military. The new division is Europe’s number one defence and space enterprise, the second largest space business worldwide and among the top ten global defence enterprises. It employs more than 38,000 employees generating revenues of approximately €13 billion per year.

Press contacts:

Astrid Emerit + 33 1 39 06 89 43
Jeremy Close + 44 14 38 77 38 72
Gregory Gavroy + 33 1 39 06 89 42
Ralph Heinrich + 49 89 607 33971
Mathias Pikelj + 49 75 45 89 123
Francisco Lechón + 34 91 586 37 41

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