Global satellite operator EchoStar and launch specialist Arianespace have reached an agreement to launch multiple new satellites over a multi-year period from Europe’s spaceport in French Guiana. The new contract will provide EchoStar with launch capacity and flexibility for its satellite programme.

“In July, EchoStar’s wholly owned subsidiary, Hughes completed the successful launch of EchoStar XVII with Arianespace, giving us confidence in Arianespace’s ability to execute on future launches,” explained Anders Johnson, president of EchoStar Satellite Services, who added that the Ariane 5 vehicle had been a reliable, flight-proven launch system.

Michael Dugan, president and CEO for EchoStar, said that with the new Arianespace contract, the operator and broadcaster would remain at the forefront of state-of-the-art DTH services, while significantly expanding transponder capacity.

EchoStar’s relationship with Arianespace dates back to 1996, when the companies successfully launched EchoStar II.

In 2012, Arianespace performed eight successful launches at the CSG: six Ariane 5, one Soyuz and one Vega. Starsem, its European-Russian subsidiary, has also carried out a launch of Soyuz from the Baikonur cosmodrome. The company has a Soyuz launch plus another Ariane 5 launch at CSG before the end of the year.

Based on its launch performance and backlog of orders, Arianespace has been the world’s leading launch company for a number of years, capturing more than 50 per cent of the commercial satellite launch market, equal to more than three years of business.