In what is being billed as perhaps the largest commercial aerospace order of all time, European space rocket company, Arianespace, placed an order for 35 giant Ariane 5 ECA launch rockets from Astrium on 30 January. The order will be worth more than €4 billion and follows up on the letter of intent signed at the last Paris Air Show in 2007.
The launchers, in the so-called 'PB batch,' will begin to be used from the second half of 2010, after the 30 Ariane 5 launchers ordered in 2004, which formed part of the 'PA' batch.
With the signing of 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, the order will now guarantee the long-term availability of Arianespace services and solutions.
Arianespace had been launched in 1980 as the world's first commercial launch services provider. The company continues to be the world's leading supplier of commercial launch services, with an order book exceeding three years of launches.
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 programme.