Italian rocket manufacturer Avio SpA, which is the prime contractor and systems integrator for Europe’s Vega booster, went public this week in Milan.
Shares of Avio jumped 11 percent following the listing Monday, which came after a merger with investment vehicle Space2 SpA and marked the exit of private-equity funds led by Cinven Ltd., while doubling the stake held by Italian aerospace and defense group Leonardo SpA.
Chief Executive Giulio Ranzo said in an interview that Avio, maker of the Vega rocket, will now be able to tap capital in a more flexible way, something that’s crucial as the launcher industry is targeted by well-funded entrants such as SpaceX and Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin LLC.
“Our industry is changing a lot,” Ranzo said. “There is an unprecedented move towards more and more commercial demand. If we want to be able to compete we need to be able to mobilize resources, invest in new products and bring them to the market.”
As it ramps up development of the Ariane 6, Airbus Safran Launchers is looking for a guarantee from European governmental bodies to order a set number of flights per year.
The company estimates that European government demand for launches accounts for only 27 percent of Arianespace’s launch activity, with the rest coming from the commercial sector. The U.S. market is 65-percent government demand, going largely to domestic launch providers, and the Russian market is 76-percent government, according to Airbus Safran Launchers numbers.
“The target now is to try to federate the European Commission, ESA, Eumetsat and national agencies for similar applications so that we organize a production order to be awarded to Arianespace as quickly as possible in order to give European industry a minimum critical mass for production of Ariane 6, and the same for Vega C,” [CEO Alain] Charmeau explained.
He said Airbus Safran Launchers is seeking a commitment of five Ariane 6 launches per year, and believes a commitment of two Vega C launches a year for Italy’s Avio would constitute enough demand to provide stability. Charmeau said demand for launches of European satellites is rising and should make this an attainable target.
“We anticipate a slight increase in institutional requirements in line with the increasing space budget in Europe, both at the European Commission level and ESA level, which means that there will be more programs, more satellites and therefore more launch services,” he said.
COLLEFERRO, Italy (AVIO PR) — About a hundred of the main European experts in space launchers gathered at Colleferro, near Rome, for a project in which the AVIO Group has a leading role both for the new space motors and especially for the VEGA C orbital launcher.
COLLEFERRO, Italy (AVIO PR) — Pierluigi Pirrelli, Chief Executive Officer of ELV, and Gaële Winters, ESA Director of Launchers, European Space Agency, signed today in Paris the contract for the development of VEGA C. Other two contracts were signed today by ESA, one for the Ariane 6 new generation launcher and one for its launch base.
The signing ceremony was held at ESA headquarters in Paris at the presence of the newly-appointed Director General Johann-Dietrich Woerner, and of the representatives of the major European national space agencies, including representatives of ASI and of the representatives of the main industries in the launcher business segment.
ROME (Arianespace PR) — Stéphane Israël, Chairman and CEO of Arianespace, and Pierluigi Pirrelli, Chief Executive of ELV (European Launch Vehicle), signed a contract today, October 29, 2014, in Rome, confirming Arianespace’s order of ten Vega launch vehicles from the Italian manufacturer.
This contract follows the long-term procurement agreement concerning these ten launchers, signed in Rome on November 20, 2013 in a ceremony attended by French President François Hollande and Enrico Letta, Chairman of the Italian Council of Ministers.
VORONEZH, Russia (KVKhA PR) — On May 16, 2014 in the test facility, Chemical Automatics Design Bureau (KBKhA) successfully conducted test firing of the engine demonstrator LM10-MIRA, developed together with the Italian company Avio. Objectives of the first test fire were carried out in full.
Retesting was decisive stage of cooperation between the two companies in the framework of research works carried out by order of the Italian Space Agency (ASI).
Space News reports on the status of Italian rocket builder Avio S.p.A., whose future is dependent on its owners efforts to sell it and ESA’s decision later this year on whether to proceed with development of the Ariane 6 launch vehicle.
Italy’s space strategy will be key to the outcome of a scheduled December meeting of European Space Agency ministers on the future of Europe’s launch sector and its participation in the international space station.
ESA has tossed aside one of its key spending practices — juste retour — in an attempt to produce a new Ariane 6 launch vehicle that can compete with cheaper ones offered by SpaceX and Chinese and Indian providers.
Juste retour (“fair return”) is the space agency’s way of spreading work around to companies in different nations in proportion to what national governments put into a program. The approach produced the highly reliable but expensive Ariane V, whose components and systems are produced throughout Europe.
Space News reports that Italy’s Avio launch vehicle builder is attracting some suitors:
The new chief executive of satellite services provider Telespazio said he is positioning the company to better compete with Astrium Services, and that ownership of Italy’s Avio rocket builder would enhance his product portfolio.
In a June 19 interview here at the Paris Air Show, Luigi Pasquali declined to say whether Rome-based Telespazio’s parent company, Finmeccanica, would enter the bidding for Avio in competition with France’s Safran/Snecma and with the EADS-owned Astrium Space Transportation company of France and Germany.
Other bidders may appear, depending on whether the Italian government weighs in with an opinion on the future of Avio, which is the industrial prime contractor for Europe’s Italian-led Vega small-satellite launcher. Vega has flown twice and is the first European rocket to succeed in its first two missions.
OHB AG of Germany ultimately may take part in an Avio bid but is unlikely to seek to purchase the entire stake of Avio’s majority owner, European private-equity investor Cinven, industry officials said.
Russia’s KBKhA Design Bureau reports the successful tests last month of a new 7.5 ton thrust rocket engine powered by liquid oxygen and liquefied natural gas.
“The tests were a significant step in the cooperation of two companies within the research work carried out by the order the Italian Space Agency (ASI),” KBKhA said in a press release.
KBKhA and Avio have been working together on the project since 2007.
KBKhA has designed rocket engines for the Soyuz, Proton and Energia launch vehicles. Avio produces Ariane 5’s two large lateral solid-propellant engines as well as the P80, Zefiro 23 and Zefiro 9 solid motors for Europe’s new Vega launcher.
Today at the Paris Air Show being held at Le Bourget, ESA signed a â‚¬20 million contract rider with the Joint Propulsion Team consortium composed of Avio SpA (I), Astrium GmbH (D) and Snecma (Groupe SAFRAN) (F), for the development of the future liquid engine demonstrator for the European Next Generation Launcher first stage, the High Thrust Engine Demonstrator.