Arianespace orders 35 giant ECA rockets

In what may well qualify as one of the largest commercial aerospace orders of all time, Arianespace on Jan 30 ordered 35 giant ECA launch rockets from Astrium.

Worth more than €4 billion, this contract follows the letter of intent signed at the last Paris Air Show in 2007, at a ceremony attended by French President Nicolas Sarkozy. The launchers in the so-called ‘PB batch’ will be used starting in the second half of 2010, after the 30 Ariane 5 launchers ordered in 2004 (“PA” batch).

With this contract, Arianespace now has 49 Ariane 5 launchers under production. Along with the upcoming service entry of the Vega and Soyuz launchers at the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana, this will guarantee the long-term availability of Arianespace Service & Solutions for all customers. Arianespace is the world’s leading supplier of commercial launch services, with an order book exceeding three years of operations.

Astrium is the sole prime contractor for Ariane 5, delivering a complete launcher to Arianespace at the Guiana Space Center. Astrium manages all industry contracts for the 12 countries that are partners in the Ariane program.