Arianespace, Boeing Launch Services and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries have signed an agreement allowing commercial customers to switch between the three companies' launch vehicles to ensure on-time delivery of satellites into orbit.

Announced at the Paris air show in June, the tri-party alliance will make it easier to change launchers to avoid delays. The agreement will initially allow current and future commercial customers access to the Ariane 5, Boeing-led Sea Launch and the Japanese H2A launch vehicles. Boeing's new Delta IV is not included in the agreement as it has been withdrawn from the commercial market following the company's decision to focus on the government launch services market (Flight International, 22-28 July).

The three companies will remain autonomous and will continue to market commercial satellite launches independently.

Any decision to switch launchers will be made by the customer. International Launch Services already offers customers the option to switch between the Lockheed Martin Atlas and Russian Proton boosters to assure access to space.

Source: Flight International