- Parabolic Arc
- March 24, 2023
Arianespace Marks 30 Years of Rocket Launches
ARIANESPACE PRESS RELEASE
3 December 2009
The 30th anniversary of Arianeâ€™s first flight was celebrated tonight in Washington, D.C., where Arianespace Chairman & CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall underscored the importance of launch services maturity and continuity in todayâ€™s competitive marketplace.
Speaking to attendees at the companyâ€™s annual holiday gathering in the U.S. nationâ€™s capital, Le Gall said three decades of operations has seen the Ariane launch site in French Guiana become the worldâ€™s most advanced space center.
He recalled the maiden flight of Ariane 1 on Christmas Eve 1979, noting that the dedication of a small, but determined team of engineers and scientists paved the way for Arianespaceâ€™s creation as the worldâ€™s first commercial launch services company.
In a reference to the operational expertise gained since this milestone Ariane mission, Le Gall joked that one key conclusion of such a successful heritage is: â€œDonâ€™t trust anyone under the age of 30,â€ noting that experience is vital for launch services quality and performance.
â€œIn all seriousness, over the last three decades, Arianespace developed not just the technical know-how, but the wisdom that comes from having launched nearly every kind of platform and nearly every kind of mission,â€ he explained. â€œIt is one of those intangible qualities that produce very tangible results.â€
Le Gallâ€™s speech included a reference to the important role played by Ariane and Arianespace in the United States â€“ both for commercial operators and the government.
â€œSince our inception, Arianespace has launched nearly 50 percent of all U.S. commercial satellites, for which we are very proud,â€ he said. â€œWeâ€™re also proud of the fact that many of the satellites weâ€™ve launched are supporting the American warfighter overseas. Many people are not aware that commercial satellites provide 80 percent of the Department of Defenseâ€™s satellite capacity.â€
Le Gall also underscored Arianespaceâ€™s contributions in helping new satellite operators literally get off the ground by providing access to space for start-up companies such as TerreStar Networks, which is based near Washington, D.C. in Reston, Virginia. Its TerreStar-1 satellite was successfully orbited by a heavy-lift Ariane 5 mission last July, delivering this nearly seven-metric ton spacecraft into a highly accurate orbit.
â€œTerreStar-1 was the worldâ€™s largest telecommunications satellite ever launched, and it was TerreStar Networkâ€™s first satellite â€“ so they literally had everything riding on our rocket,â€ he said. â€œWith the flawless Ariane 5 launch behind them, TerreStar has partnered with AT&T, and is now rolling out a revolutionary pocket-sized satellite phone.â€
Le Gall concluded his remarks with a reminder that the launch site in French Guiana â€œhas become a pathway to space for all people of the world,â€ and will further expand its operations next year when Arianespace introduces Soyuz as the newest member of its launcher family in 2010.