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New Japan, U.S. launch contracts for Arianespace
Ariane 5. © Arianespace

New Japan, U.S. launch contracts for Arianespace

Arianespace has announced launch contracts with Japan's Broadcasting Satellite System Corporation (B-SAT) on an Ariane 5 and Seattle-based Spaceflight Industries on the Vega light launcher.

Arianespace has announced two new launch contracts: the BSAT-4b satellite for Japan's Broadcasting Satellite System Corporation (B-SAT) on an Ariane 5, and a series of small satellites on the Vega light launcher for Seattle-based Spaceflight Industries.

The BSAT-4b contract comes in the wake of two successful Japanese launches in the last seven months — BSAT-4a for operator B-SAT in September 2017 and DSN-1/Superbird-8 for the Japanese Ministry of Defense and the operator SKY Perfect JSAT on 5th April 2018.

BSAT-4b represents Arianespace's 32nd contract with a Japanese operator, giving the European firm a 75% share of Japan's commercial geostationary satellites.

The next two Japan-related missions on Arianespace’s agenda, slated for launch in the fourth quarter of 2018, are: BepiColombo, a programme by the European Space Agency (ESA) in partnership with the Japan Space Exploration Agency (JAXA); and Horizons 3e, to be orbited for the operator SKY Perfect JSAT.

The contract with Spaceflight Industries is part of the Small Spacecraft Mission Service (SSMS) Proof Of Concept (POC) flight. This will be the inaugural mission for Spaceflight customer spacecraft on an Arianespace vehicle.

The initial batch of spacecraft is slated for launch aboard Vega in early 2019 from Europe’s Spaceport at the Guiana Space Center. The contract covers a microsatellite and a significant number of cubesats to be launched on the SSMS POC flight, as well as on a subsequent Vega SSMS flight about one year later.

The Vega POC flight will also be the first mission of the SSMS, a modular carbon fibre dispenser, a programme initiated by ESA in 2016, with the contribution of the European Commission.

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