ARIANESPACE has announced plans to order 50 Ariane 5 new-generation satellite launchers, to meet an expected 30% increase in demand for telecommunications satellite launches by the year 2000.

Arianespace chairman and chief executive Charles Bigot says that the European consortium is determined to preserve its market share in the face of aggressive international competition, principally from the USA, but also from Russian and Chinese rivals. Arianespace already controls more than 50% of the world market.

According to Bigot, Arianespace will also announce the creation of its own finance company, offering potential customers the option of a "one-stop shop", with fixed-rate finance competitive with those from traditional sources.

A decision on setting up the finance arm is due to be taken by Arianespace's board on 25 January.

Arianespace is also re-activating its S3R insurance subsidiary, founded ten years ago, to help satellite operators secure better rates on the space-insurance market.

Ground tests for the Ariane 5 are due to be completed by March, in preparation for a maiden flight on 7 May. The first commercial launch is scheduled for December 1996.

Source: Flight International