• 53rd consecutive successful launch of Ariane 5, and the seventh this year, confirming its status as the most reliable commercial launcher currently in service
• Three Airbus Defence and Space prime contractorships: Airbus Defence and Space Space Transportation for the Ariane 5 launcher, Airbus Defence and Space Satellites for the Skynet 5D satellite, and Airbus Defence and Space Services for the operation of the Skynet 5 programme on behalf of the UK Ministry of Defence
• Three Airbus Defence and Space-built satellites launched within a period of less than three weeks: Pléiades 1B, Eutelsat 70B and Skynet 5D
19 December 2012 - Ariane 5 has been successfully launched from Kourou, French Guiana, for the 53rd time in a row and the seventh time this year, once again confirming the extraordinary reliability of the European launch vehicle under industrial prime contractorship of Airbus Defence and Space, Europe’s leading space technology company. Airbus Defence and Space played a triple role in this launch, responsible for production of the Ariane 5 launcher, the design and manufacture of the Skynet 5D satellite and for the operation of the Skynet 5 programme on behalf of the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD).
Commenting on the launch, Airbus Defence and Space CEO François Auque said: “After Pléiades 1B and Eutelsat 70B, Skynet 5D is the third satellite designed and built by Airbus Defence and Space to be launched in less than three weeks. Airbus Defence and Space builds Ariane 5, the most reliable commercial launch vehicle currently in service, and Airbus Defence and Space will continue to operate the Skynet 5 programme on behalf of the UK Ministry of Defence. With three prime contractorships, this evening’s launch clearly demonstrates Airbus Defence and Space’s broad expertise across the board from launchers to services and satellites. We are the only European company to cover the entire range of civil and military space systems and services.”
Skynet 5D is the fourth satellite in the Skynet 5 programme and will reinforce and extend the operational service already provided by this military telecommunications system. Skynet 5D has increased fuel capacity, enabling the satellite to be repositioned more frequently in orbit, enhancing its ability to respond to the operational requirements of the UK’s armed forces. The satellite has an expected operating life of at least 15 years.
Signed in 2003, Skynet 5 is the MOD’s military satellite telecommunications programme. Airbus Defence and Space was entrusted with the task of designing and building the satellites, while Airbus Defence and Space is responsible for system design and the day-to-day operation of the communication services as part of a public-private partnership.
Skynet 5D is the third satellite manufactured by Airbus Defence and Space to be launched within a period of less than three weeks. It was preceded by Pléiades 1B, launched on 1 December 2012, and Eutelsat 70B, launched on 3 December. Airbus Defence and Space has delivered nine satellites into orbit this year: Yahsat 1B, SPOT 6, Metop-B, Astra 2F, two Galileo IOV satellites, Pléiades 1B, Eutelsat 70B and Skynet 5D.
The total payload carried aloft by this 211th Ariane flight was 8,637 kg. The two satellites placed in geostationary orbit made up 7,735 kg of this weight, while the rest was accounted for by Airbus Defence and Space’s SYLDA dual launch system and structures to adapt the satellites to the payload bay.
For more information on Airbus Defence and Space, the only European company to cover the entire range of civil and military space systems and services, go to:
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
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