France's Investment Program for the Future allocates €25 million for Ariane 5 upgrade
Following the first meeting of the joint government-industry committee on space, the French Minister of Higher Education and Research announced that the government was allocating 25 million euros to an upgrade of the Ariane 5 launcher.
The upgrade will increase the available volume under the fairing, adding up to 2 meters in payload height for Arianespace's launch customers, without carrying a performance penalty. This upgrade, scheduled for implementation in 2015, is designed to address the current trend in geostationary telecommunications satellites, which are gradually becoming larger as their power and complexity both increase.
Arianespace Chairman and CEO Stéphane Israël gave the following statement following the announcement: "I would like to thank the French government and the Minister of Higher Education and Research, Geneviève Fioraso, for deciding to allocate part of the funds available through the PIA program to finance this upgrade to our Ariane 5 ECA launcher. Through this upgrade, whose cost has been kept to a minimum, Arianespace will be able to keep pace with market requirements and continue to meet our customers' expectations. There is a tremendous amount at stake for the launcher industry, which counts over 10,000 employees in France and in Europe.
“I would also like to thank ESA and CNES for immediately supporting this program, for which Arianespace recently expressed a need. And I would also like to emphasize the commitment of the European space industry, in particular our prime Astrium and Ruag, the fairing supplier, to deliver this upgrade in 2015, while keeping costs under control. Ariane 5 ECA is already the most reliable launcher on the market, and this upgrade will also increase its competitiveness in the near future," Israel added.