Airbus Safran Launchers Looks Back on Productive Year

Artist's impression of Ariane 6. (Credit: ESA)
Artist’s impression of Ariane 6. (Credit: ESA)

Issy-les-Moulineaux, France (Airbus Safran PR) — At the presentation of his New Year’s greetings to the press, Alain Charmeau, CEO, took a look back at the activities of the first year of Airbus Safran Launchers, created in January 2015, following the ESA Ministerial Conference of December 2014.

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Ariane 6 Moves Forward With No Immediate Plans for Reuse

Ariane 6 variants (Credit: Airbus Defense and Space)
Ariane 6 variants (Credit: Airbus Defense and Space)

Airbus Safran Launchers CEO Alain Charmeau says the company is making rapid progress on Europe’s Ariane 6 next generation launcher, with the basic design now frozen.

“We have already signed some major contracts, and more will be signed in the coming days. And for those equipments not on the critical path, we will sign contracts in the coming months after running some competitions.”

For its part, Airbus Safran does not envisage making Ariane 6 recoverable, not in the short term….

Long term it is hard to envisage Ariane shunning re-usability, and Airbus is studying a concept called Adeline that would modify the 62 and 64 variants to allow their main engine to fly back to a runway after consuming its launch propellant.

Whether Adeline, or some other re-usability concept, ever sees the light of day – and it would not be before 2030 – will ultimately come down to the attitude of European Space Agency member states. They fund the R&D of the Ariane programme and they may feel the American competition demands a response.

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ESA Awards Contract for Laser Ignition System

Artist's impression of Ariane 6. (Credit: ESA)
Artist’s impression of Ariane 6. (Credit: ESA)

VILLACH, Austria, November 3, 2015 (CTR PR) — The European Space Agency (ESA) has awarded the Carinthian research centre CTR in cooperation with the German-French company Airbus Safran Launchers GmbH the contract to further develop CTR’s HiPoLas® laser ignition technology for launcher drive systems.

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Airbus Safran Launchers Signs $2.7 Billion Contract for Ariane 6 Program

Ariane 6 variants (Credit: Airbus Defense and Space)
Ariane 6 variants (Credit: Airbus Defense and Space)

PARIS (Airbus Safran Launchers PR) — The European Space Agency (ESA) and Airbus Safran Launchers today signed a €2.4 billion [$2.7 billion] contract covering the development of the Ariane 6 launcher in its two versions, Ariane 62 and 64.

This contract includes, notably, a firm commitment of some €680 million [$761.5 million] for initial development activities (phases A & B) up to the Preliminary Design Review scheduled for mid-2016.

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ESA Signs $3.8 Billion Contracts for Ariane 6, Vega C & Kourou Upgrades

Artist's conception of Ariane 6. (Credit: ESA)
Artist’s conception of Ariane 6. (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Today, ESA signed contracts for the development of the Ariane 6 new‑generation launcher, its launch base and the Vega C evolution of the current small launcher.

The contracts, signed at ESA’s Paris Head Office with Airbus Safran Launchers (ASL), France’s CNES space agency and ELV, respectively, cover all development work on Ariane 6 and its launch base for a maiden flight in 2020, and on Vega C for its 2018 debut.

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Airbus Safran, CNES Reach Agreement on Arianespace Restructuring

Artist's impression of Ariane 6. (Credit: ESA)
Artist’s impression of Ariane 6. (Credit: ESA)

EVRY, France, June 16, 2015 (Arianespace PR) — Airbus Safran Launchers (ASL) has reached an agreement with the French State and CNES, the French space agency, to transfer CNES’s stake in Arianespace. After the completion of all regulatory consultation and approval procedures, Airbus Safran Launchers in consequence plans to hold 74% of Arianespace’s share capital.

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French Government Prepares to Sell Shares in Arianespace

Ariane 6 variants (Credit: Airbus Defense and Space)
Ariane 6 variants (Credit: Airbus Defense and Space)

The French government is preparing to get out of the rocket business as Airbus Safran Launchers gears up to build the new Ariane 6 rocket:

Airbus Safran Launchers took ownership of 39 percent of Arianespace in January. A statement from the French prime minister’s office Wednesday confirmed government’s plans to sell its nearly 35 percent stake in Arianespace to Airbus Safran Launchers, which would give the company control of 74 percent of the Evry, France-based launch provider.

The French space agency CNES holds the government’s stake in Arianespace, which flies the heavy-lift Ariane 5 rocket, a Europeanized version of Russia’s Soyuz booster and the Italian-led Vega launcher from the French-run Guiana Space Center on the northern coast of South America.

More than a quarter of Arianespace shares will remain in the hands of smaller subcontractors spread across France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Norway and Denmark.

The selloff by the French government will end more than 50 years of CNES leadership in rocket design and development, which included the Diamant launcher in the 1960s, making France the third nation after the Soviet Union and the United States to send its own satellite into orbit.

For the first time in Europe’s space program, the new Ariane 6 rocket is designed by the private sector, and will be funded in a public-private partnership between Airbus Safran Launchers and the European Space Agency.

Airbus Safran to Contribute 400 Million Euros for Ariane 6

Artist's impression of Ariane 6. (Credit: ESA)
Artist’s impression of Ariane 6. (Credit: ESA)

SpaceNews reports that Airbus Safran Launchers will contribute 400 million euros ($440 million) to the $3 billion euro ($3.3 billion) cost of developing the new Ariane 6 launch vehicle, with the European Space Agency (ESA) paying the rest.

A separate contract between ESA and the French space agency, CNES, is being negotiated for the Ariane 6 ground installations at Europe’s Guiana Space Center in South America. CNES has control of that contract, whose value has been estimated at about 600 million euros.

Airbus Safran Launchers gave ESA its Ariane 6 bid May 7, as scheduled. The company has already come to terms with its principal subcontractors — MT Aerospace of Germany, Ruag of Sweden and Avio of Italy — on prices for their Ariane 6 elements, Charmeau said.

In particular, he said, Airbus Safran Launches and Avio had come to terms on responsibility for developing the P-120 solid-fueled rocket stage, which for Ariane 6 will be a strap-on booster and for the Avio-built Vega small-satellite launcher will be the first stage.

Private-equity investor Cinven has been trying to sell Avio’s space division for several years. Finmeccanica is seen as the most likely buyer, but no deal has been concluded. Charmeau said that Avio’s status as a company about to be sold had no particular effect on the negotiations.

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Safran Injects $1 Billion into Rocket Partnership With Airbus

Artist's impression of Ariane 6. (Credit: ESA)
Artist’s impression of Ariane 6. (Credit: ESA)

Airbus and Safran have ramped up their launch vehicle partnership:

Airbus and Safran said their joint venture to take over design and production of Europe’s Ariane 5 and future Ariane 6 rockets is expected to be in full operations by late 2015 following a Safran payment to Airbus of 800 million euros ($1 billion) in cash.

The transfer, both companies said, will be necessary for French aerospace-engine builder Safran to maintain a 50 percent stake in the new company, which was created in January and is called Airbus Safran Launchers.

In conference calls with investors Feb. 25 and Feb. 27, the two companies said that in addition to assuming the civil-launcher and strategic missiles work of the two companies, the joint venture by late 2015 is expected to have purchased the French government’s entire 34 percent ownership stake in the Arianespace commercial launch consortium.

Ultimately the joint venture is expected to have some 4,500 employees. For now, it is only 450 people — 300 from Airbus, the rest from Safran.

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