Chris Jasper/AMSTERDAM

European space business Astrium is to be split in two, with one part retaining the Astrium name and specialising in satellite manufacture and the other focusing on launchers.

The move will coincide with the folding into Astrium of France's EADS Launch Vehicles or ELV (formerly Aerospatiale Matra Lanceurs) and CASA Space of Spain, both owned by Astrium's 75% shareholder EADS.

The two EADS units were originally due to merge directly into 'old Astrium', enlarging it and decreasing the stake of 25% shareholder BAE Systems. Under the new move, the satellite business, dubbed 'New Astrium Satellites', will receive parts of ELV and CASA Space, with the launcher business taking the bulk of ELV, the rump of Astrium and the rest of CASA Space. It will be an all-EADS operation, known as EADS Launchers.

Astrium and ELV had sales last year of €2 billion ($1.8 billion) and €1 billion respectively, but the restructuring, to be completed by year-end, according to EADS executive vice president Jean-Louis Gergorin, should see the former ELV grow by 25-33%. The move - aimed, he says, at "improving the two businesses and preparing them for possible further consolidation within their sectors" - will also see a net transfer of 1,100 staff from Astrium (which employs 7,400) to ELV (3,400).

New Astrium will retain sites at Vélizy and Toulouse in France, Stevenage, Poynton and Portsmouth in the UK and Lampoldhausen, Ottobrunn and Friedrichshafen in Germany. It will inherit part of ELV and CASA Space's Madrid-based Crisa subsidiary. EADS Launchers will inherit ELV's major sites at Les Mureaux and Aquitaine in France and the Kourou launch base in French Guiana, Astrium's Bremen site and part of Friedrichshafen, and some of CASA.


ELV's launcher business includes the Ariane 4 and 5 launchers, the International Space Station's Automated Transfer Vehicle and MSBS missile launchers, plus the Starsem venture with Soyuz, while Astrium's includes stages and structures for Ariane, the small payload Eurockot venture with Khrunichev and the similar Leolink, and the Dual Payload Attach Fitting for Boeing's Delta II.

Excluded from the restructuring is Finemeccanica's Alenia Spazio, talks having broken down over valuation and its wish to remain in both satellites and launchers, sources say. BAE has no launcher interests, but could see its stake in the satellite unit increase via Astrium's new Paradigm consortium - formed to bid for the UK's Skynet 5 contract.

Source: Flight International