Echostar signs a multi-satellite deal using the Ariane 5 rocket.

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The competition heats up: Echostar signs a multi-satellite deal using the Ariane 5 rocket.

Several points:

  • This is good news for Arianespace, as it gives them a long-term and very reliable customer at just the moment many people, including myself, thought they’d have difficulty selling Ariane 5 to anyone in the coming years. With this deal in hand, they might be able to keep the rocket afloat long enough to find a way to lower its costs and make it more competitive.
  • This is bad news for ILS and the Russian Proton rocket. They have lost a loyal customer. And the reason is probably related to their two recent launch failures as well as other quality control failures. Echostar likely looked at these problems and compared them with Ariane 5’s near perfect launch record, with 52 successful launches in a row.
  • Overally, however, this is great news for the increasingly competitive launch market. Not only does it keep Arianespace alive, it puts increased pressure on the Russians to find a way to lower their costs, improve their reliability, and thus compete with both the Ariane 5 and SpaceX’s Falcon 9. See for example this story about how the Russians plan on reorganizing their industry.

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