Satellites

Arianespace looks to continuing its leadership in 2002

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Even as the satellite launch sector saw a global recession in 2001, Arianespace took credit for maintaining a strong lead in the commercial space transportation segment.

While the year saw a 30 per cent reduction in the number of satellite launches, with 58 successful launches as against 82 in 2000, Arianespace managed to win 13 launch service contracts out of a total 25 signed worldwide during the year. The company performed eight launches that carried 11 of the 16 geostationary satellites that competed for a commercial launch in 2001.

Although the Ariane 5 launch on 12 July 2001 left the payload, Artemis and BSat 2b, in useless orbits, Artemis is expected to be able to reach geostationary orbit on its own while BSat 2b was declared a total loss.

The company is however upbeat, claiming that it ended 2001 on a strong note, signing contracts to launch satellites for Orbital Sciences Corp of the US and the European operator Eutelsat. Orbital Sciences Corp's order is for the launch of BSAT-2C on behalf of the Japanese operator B-SAT. B-SAT2C is a follow-on to B-SAT2A successfully lofted by Arianespace in March 2001, and the new 1,300-kg. spacecraft will feature 4 Ku-band transponders.

As of 7 January, Arianespace's backlog stands at 51 payloads to be launched, including nine ATV missions for the International Space Station. The year just concluded saw Arianespace make progress on the technical and industrial fronts, claims the company. The new S5 payload process complex was inaugurated at the Ariane launch site in Kourou, French Guiana, providing Arianespace with the most modern facility of its kind in the world. This massive satellite checkout and processing centre is sized to handle spacecraft for up to four launch campaigns simultaneously.

The upgradation of the Ariane 5 launch facilities will boost Ariane 5's payload capacity to 10 metric tons on missions to geostationary transfer orbit (GTO).

The service entry of the ESC-A cryogenic upper stage is also

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