SES has confirmed that Arianespace has been awarded the launch contracts for the SES-17 satellite and the fifth set of O3b satellites. The satellite operator confirmed in two separate announcements that Arianespace has scheduled the launches for 2018 and 2021 respectively. In addition to the two newly awarded SES launches, Arianespace has already secured the contract to launch the SES-14 early next year.
Arianespace has bounced back from a last second launch abort of the Ariane 5 Flight VA239 to land two huge SES contracts. “We are satisfied to conclude two important contracts with Arianespace giving us the necessary and reliable access to space that we need to further develop and drive our business,” said Sir Martin Halliwell, chief technology officer at SES on the completion of the deal.
Although the satellite operator clearly holds Arianespace in high regard, Steve Collar, the chief executive at SES Networks explained their commitment to the launch provider was about more than one company. Collar explained stating, “Our commitment to Arianespace also underscores that SES continues to play a major role for the European space industry.”
In addition to the three launch contracts, SES currently have with Arianespace, the satellite operator is in talks for future launches aboard the Ariane 6 vehicle currently under development. In a statement on the SES-17 contract, Arianespace Chief Executive, Stéphane Israël explained, “SES’ continued trust in Arianespace is a clear demonstration that our Ariane 5 heavy-lift launcher is keeping pace with these changing technologies, prior to the advent of our new-generation Ariane 6 launch vehicle – for which discussions are underway to serve future SES missions,”
It would seem that Arianespace is not only set to take advantage of two new launch contracts but also a fair amount of good publicity. Stéphane Israël will likely utilise the good publicity to extend their rather meager looking launch schedule.