March 19, 2011

Ariane 5 Gets Cash Infusion

European Space Agency (ESA) members decided on Friday they will put an additional $339 million into the Ariane 5 program so the rockets can continue to be used.

Arianespace, the company that operates the vehicle, made losses in each of the past two years, even though it is the dominant player in its market.

ESA agreed to the funding during a two-day council meeting in Paris.

The decision follows an assessment of the costs of running the rocket system.

This assessment was intended to gauge where efficiencies could be found in the supply and operation chains.

The new funds help cover the period up until the major meeting of European space ministers at the end of 2012.

That meeting is expected to lay out a plan that will put Arianespace and its operations on a more sustainable foundation.

Six to seven Ariane 5 rocket flights are conducted each year, while Arianespace also markets Russia's Soyuz vehicles.

The company is bringing a third rocket into its line called Vega to help carry scientific payloads weighing up to 1.6 tons.

The next Ariane 5 rocket is scheduled launch on March 29.  The vehicle will put the Yahsat 1A and Intelsat New Dawn telecommunications satellites on paths to take up geostationary positions 22,000 miles above Earth.


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