Arianespace, the European partnership that makes space rockets, expects demand to launch satellites to increase in Asia as China and other nations boost their space programs.
Arianespace has won orders to launch satellites from customers in Japan, India and Australia, its biggest markets in the Asia Pacific region, Richard Bowles, managing director at the company’s Singapore unit, said in an interview. Demand for satellite launches will also increase in Europe, he said.
China, India and other Asian countries are spending billions of dollars on their space exploration projects while other nations cut back. That is also increasing competition for Arianespace as these nations invest more to develop their own technology to launch satellites and spacecraft.
“While there is more competition, there are also more activities, so there is more business,” Bowles said yesterday. “The ambition to build their own rockets encourages them to invest in space and that is to our advantage because it will mean more demand to launch satellites.”
India in November began its first mission to Mars, seeking to beat China to the red planet. The South Asian nation launched a rocket carrying a satellite that will be put into orbit around Mars, a feat only the U.S., Europe and Russia have achieved.
A month later, China sent a rocket carrying an unmanned rover to explore the lunar surface, becoming the third country to land a spacecraft on the moon. The next mission, set for 2017, will involve landing a spacecraft on the moon and returning it to Earth, according to Xinhua News Agency.
Japan in September launched the Epsilon rocket, designed to be an inexpensive way to put satellites into earth orbit. South Korea in January last year launched its first space rocket and in November unveiled plans for a lunar mission.
“When you see a launcher being developed, it’s also indicative of a quite vibrant space industry,” Bowles said.
Last year, Arianespace signed 18 launch contracts worth 1.4 billion euros ($1.9 billion). The company had an order backlog of 4.3 billion euros, according to a statement.
The company is monitoring closely the progress at Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp., Bowles said. SpaceX in 2012 became the first company to dock a commercial craft at the International Space Station, and it has begun ferrying cargo.