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Astrium CEO Defends Ariane 5 Rocket Project

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Posts: 36
Jan 26th, 2012 at 5:28am  
In a press conference about the companyís 2011 financial performance, Auque defended the Ariane 5 Mid-life Evolution (ME) program, which is scheduled for review by ESA governments in November.

ESA agreed to begin the construction in 2008, but the agency deferred the funding until the 2011 meeting. Some European officials suggested the immediate construction of Ariane 5 successor rocket owing to budget constraints. The successor rocket is more flexible and less expensive to operate.

But the Astrium Space Transportation division needs to work on the Ariane 5 ME to keep its design unit busy. The companyís design operations in France and Germany will lose a lot if the rocket project is killed.

ESA is surveying satellite owners , most of which are government agencies, to estimate their demand for scientific, observation, military and other types of satellites. Auque said the survey is good, but calls on ESA  to decide what it wants.

ESA could extend the $156 million-a-year payment for Ariane beyond 2012 depending on the outcome of the November meeting. Auque said itís possible to put a stop on the annual payment once Ariane 5 ME is operational.
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