Chris Jasper/BREMEN

Newly launched European space company Astrium has revealed pro forma sales of £2 billion ($3 billion) for last year and has detailed ambitious expansion plans based on organic growth and an aggressive merger policy.

Chairman and chief executive Armand Carlier, buoyed by Astrium's recent Inmarsat contract win over Lockheed Martin and Boeing's former Hughes business, identifies communications and navigation, military satellites and service deals as major growth areas.

The £3 billion Galileo satellite navigation system is a key target for Astrium, which was formally launched on 17 May. But Carlier says the military market could boom if Europe is serious about catching up with the USA to fulfil its NATO commitments.

Service sales are also set to rocket, Carlier believes, as outsourcing becomes the vogue in everything from remote sensing and Earth observation to the International Space Station. Public/private partnership deals are to become the norm, he believes, catching Astrium's US competitors napping.

Carlier, speaking at 50% shareholder DaimlerChrysler Aerospace's (Dasa) space infrastructures facility in Bremen, Germany, said Astrium was also merger minded, but did not want to consolidate all European space activities. Astrium currently includes Matra Marconi Space and "Dasa Space", while Alenia Spazio has agreed to join.

Aerospatiale Matra Lanceurs is likely to be brought on board as a consequence of the merger of 25% Astrium owner Aerospatiale Matra with Dasa and CASA of Spain into EADS. However, Carlier says no talks have taken place with rival Alcatel Space. The space activities of CASA, Snecma and Oerlikon Contraves Space are of interest to him and he is "completely open" to a US deal, although sceptical that one will be possible because of technology transfer issues.

Carlier says Astrium has "spoken with" Boeing and Lockheed Martin in an industry with "not many players", but "crossborder deals are relatively complex".

Source: Flight International