ARIANESPACE HAS set 14 March as the date of the launch of an Ariane 44LP on flight V71, from Kourou, French Guiana, carrying Eutelsat's first direct TV broadcast satellite, the Hot Bird 1, and the Brasilsat B2 satellite into geostationary transfer orbit.

The company has invested $8 million in modifications to the Ariane 4 third stage after a malfunction caused the loss of V70 and its payload, the PanAmSat 3, on 1 December 1994 (Flight International, 4-10 January).

This was the second failure of an Ariane 4 in 1994 and, although Arianespace has a comfortable lead in the commercial-launcher market, with an order book of 39 satellites to late 1996, another failure could jeopardise its business position for launches after 1997.

Charles Bigot, the president of Arianespace, believes his company can make up the delay in planned launches in 1995 and meet a schedule of 30 launches to 1 January 1997.

Source: Flight International