Arianespace signs the largest contract in its history with Amazon

The Ariane 6 launch site in Kourou, French Guiana, in September 2021.

“We have just signed and announced the most important contract in Ariane’s history. † On Tuesday, April 5, Arianespace Executive President Stéphane Israel expressed his satisfaction at the Space Symposium, the gathering of the world space community, in Colorado Springs, Colorado. After two and a half years of negotiations, Amazon has chosen the European rocket to launch some of the 3,236 satellites of its future Kuiper constellation, whose goal is to broadcast high-speed internet around the planet. by 2030. It is one of four launchers selected by the e-commerce champion for its 83 launches, which, in addition to its future New Glenn rocket, is being developed by Blue Origin, the space company of Jeff Bezos, Atlases and Vulcans Centaur. of the American United Launch Alliance (ULA).

Read also After three delays, the Ariane-5 rocket lifted off from Kourou

Eighteen Ariane-6 launches are planned in three years, each of the launchers having at least thirty satellites. Never seen. “Usually customers only need half the payload of a rocket for their satellites. Now that the entire launcher is reserved, it’s like we signed thirty-six contracts at once,” explains Mr. Israel. The rhythm of the missions is not specified, nor is the amount of this contract, which would amount to several billion euros.

The priority now is to successfully put this new missile into service as soon as possible, to succeed the Ariane-5, which has been in service since 1996 and whose first flight is scheduled for December.

two years late

“The Amazon contract gives the Ariane-6 program scope, gives credibility to its market prospects and most importantly, it consolidates the image of this future launch vehicle, emphasizes the boss of Arianespace. Designed at a time when the market was dominated by the launch of large satellites into geostationary orbit 36,000 kilometers from Earth, it demonstrates its adaptability to this new and growing market for constellations of small, low-orbit satellites evolving between 500 and 1,200 kilometers. † †

“The Amazon contract gives the Ariane-6 program scope, gives credibility to its market prospects and, above all, consolidates the image of this future launch vehicle”, Stéphane Israel, Executive Chairman of Arianespace

This new market almost did not exist in 2014, when Europeans decided to equip themselves with a new rocket. They then do so in response to the offensive of Tesla founder Elon Musk, who, by getting into the space field, with SpaceX and its Falcon-9 rockets, is slashing prices, weakening and even eclipsing traditional players.

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