By guest author Chris Forrester
Europe’s Arianespace has reported a 30 % increase in revenues for 2021 having complete 15 successful launches during the year.
Arianespace says it saw revenues of EUR 1.25 billion last year and says it will likely break-even in trading terms once the year’s accounts are complete.
The launch company now operates from three spaceports: its core operations in French Guiana at Kourou, and the two Russian sites (at Baikonur and Vostochny). The Russian facilities are largely used for launching the OneWeb batches of broadband satellites.
CEO Stephane Israel, in a press briefing, said that last year there were 21.5 commercial rocket launches globally which translated for it into a modest majority of the world’s launch business. Arianespace does not include SpaceX’s Starlink launches in its category of global launches.
Israel took a buoyant view of Arianespace’s future and said that its order book backlog currently comprised 36 launches and made up of 24 customers split almost equally between governmental and commercial. Last year it carried out 15 launches of its trio of rockets (Ariane, Soyuz and Vega). This was the most activity in a single year since 2000.
This year should see at least 17 launches. The ‘big move’ is the introduction of Ariane 6, the first of the company’s ‘next generation’ craft. Israel said he was optimistic that the initial launch would happen in the second-half of this year. “All our energies are mobilised to do so,” he said at the press briefing. “Very important milestones are now behind us, and this is why we are confident of making this maiden flight this year.”
He also reported that by Arianespace’s analysis of the world market last year some 389 small satellites (less than 500 kgs in weight) were launched and worth a combined $250 million a year. Israel said he expected this rate of launches to continue.
Israel has his eye on some of this activity. Top of the lest is OneWeb’s further expansion with its second-generation satellites. Then there’s Jeff Bezos’s Project Kuiper. Even though Kuiper has contracted with the United Launch Alliance for nine Atlas rockets he said that he saw this LEO segment as being “very dynamic”.