March 04, 2013
Amy Svitek Paris, Madrid and Berlin
In the coming years, as the U.K. replaces Italy as the European Space Agency's (ESA) third-largest contributor, the Astrium space division of EADS stands to benefit from Britain's 25% increase in ESA spending approved in November 2012.
With major operations in the U.K., Astrium will take advantage of a funding boost targeted mainly at developing next-generation telecommunication satellite technologies and supporting Earth-observation and meteorology programs.
EADS CEO Tom Enders says he was pleased with the outcome of the ESA budget meeting in Naples, Italy, where ministers from the agency's 20 member states approved €10 billion ($13 billion) for new and ongoing programs over the next several years.
“The decisions taken there clearly reaffirm Astrium's strong position as a top player in the global space industry,” Enders said during an annual press conference in Berlin Feb. 27.
Last year Astrium generated an estimated €5.8 billion in revenue in 2012, up 17% over the previous year at €4.9 billion, including €500 million from the purchase of mobile satellite services distributor Vizada in 2011.
The company's order intake last year totaled €3.7 billion, up from €3.5 billion the previous year, including contracts for two telecom satellites for Russian fleet operator RSCC, two new Grace spacecraft for NASA, ESA's Solar Orbiter mission, a six-year support services agreement with French defense procurement agency DGA for the Helios Earth observation system and the next-generation Comsat NG project that could succeed France's Syracuse 3 system by 2019.
Last year Astrium saw a record seven launches of the Ariane 5 heavy-lift rocket, one of which lofted the third of five Astrium-built Automated Transfer Vehicles (ATV) to the International Space Station (ISS). The company also launched nine Astrium-built satellites in 2012, among them four telecom spacecraft, two Galileo satellite navigation satellites, the Metop-B polar-orbiting meteorological observatory, and the SPOT 6 and Pleiades 1B optical imaging satellites.