The planned upgraded Ariane 5 ECB booster with a restartable Vinci cryogenic engine – designed to carry 12t into geosynchronous transfer orbit – is being shelved because of doubts over the size of the potential market, says EADS.

The ECB, which was to have flown first in 2006, had been put on temporary hold by the European Space Agency in 2003.

Optimistic forecasts of a growing market for 6,000kg (13,200lb)-class communications satellites, flying dual missions on boosters such as the ECB, have proved wrong. The current Ariane 5 ECA, which can carry 10t to GTO, has flown only one successful mission and, given the Arianespace manifest, could also be under-utilised, carrying a lighter combined load because of a falling market.

"The mass of satellites has grown less than anticipated," says Arianespace. "We must industrialise the ECA – the market does not need the more powerful version."


Source: Flight International