Arianespace stays upbeat on Asia-Pacific marts [New Straits Time (Malaysia)]
(New Straits Time (Malaysia) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) SINGAPORE: THE Asia-Pacific region is becoming more important for satellite launch services company Arianespace.
The company's first customer in the region was Australia, with the launch of Aussat K3 in 1987. Four years later, Thailand's Shin Satellite became its first Southeast Asian customer.
In the 27 years since Aussat, Arianespace has launched 68 satellites, with another nine on the books, including Malaysia's own Measat 3B, as well as Measat 3C, being built in partnership with Australia's Newsat.
Arianespace Singapore Pte Ltd managing director Richard Bowles said the region, in the short space of about five years, had grown from 23 to 30 per cent of the company's total satellite deliveries.
"In fact, in 2009, the Asia-Pacific region became the second most important region in terms of transponder demand. There is massive demand in Indonesia. Of course ... it's the most populace country in Southeast Asia. There is also massive demand in India."
The demand in Indonesia, in fact, is not just about the large population, said Bowles. The spatial layout of the country means satellites are an important tool in communication and inter- connectivity.
Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI) has become Arianespace's first customer from a financial institution investing in BRIsat.
On why a bank such as BRI invested in a satellite, Bowles said he believes it was because of the country's huge layout.
"I think they want to increase inter-connectivity between their various offices." Arianespace chief executive officer and chairman Stephane Israel said the company had launched more than 50 per cent of the satellites in the region.
"We have established strong, long-standing partnerships with operators in the Asia-Pacific region ... we hope to maintain and amplify our favoured relationship with partners in this region."
Israel said the outlook for the region, especially Asia and Southeast Asia, was good.
"It's a dynamic market ... we are working on several prospects," he said, but declined to say what these were.
Arianespace has carried out 410 launches with 90 different customers, mostly from its Ariane heavy launch vehicle.
It operates the Ariane 5, with the upgraded models Ariane 5ECA and 5ME expected to be introduced in 2015 and 2018, respectively.
Both are expected to be able to deliver heavier payloads, but will be eclipsed by Ariane 6, which is expected to begin operations in 2020 or 2021.
Arianespace now operates the Soyuz launch vehicles. The legendary Russian medium payload vehicle - which launched the Sputnik, the world's first satellite - has been slightly modified using Western European technology.
The third vehicle, specifically for small and medium-sized payloads, is the Vega and is designed to provide an efficient way to launch missions to low-earth orbits as well as sun-synchronised orbits.
This year alone, Arianespace has successfully launched two Ariane 5 vehicles, with four more planned.
The company has also launched a Soyuz and a Vega, with three and one more such vehicles, respectively, on the books.
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