PARIS — Europe’s Arianespace launch services consortium and the French space agency, CNES, on Dec. 22 announced they had concluded new five-year contracts totaling 700 million euros ($940 million) with the major companies performing operations and maintenance work at the Guiana Space Center spaceport in French Guiana.

Evry, France-based Arianespace and CNES both said the contracts’ overall cost will permit them to realize substantial synergies as they spread many of the fixed costs of the launch base over three vehicles starting in 2012.

Joining the heavy-lift Ariane 5 rocket at the Guiana center, located on the northeast coast of South America, is Russia’s medium-lift Soyuz rocket, which has made two flights from the equatorial spaceport; and the Vega small-satellite launcher, which is expected to enter service early in 2012.

Arianespace concluded negotiations with the 16 companies it oversees at the Guiana Space Center for 330 million euros. CNES signed 14 separate contracts with companies doing CNES-managed work for 370 million euros, also over five years. Some 900 jobs are covered by the new contracts.

Arianespace is expected to ask the 19-nation European Space Agency (ESA) for financial help to offset some of the fixed costs Arianespace incurs in conducting its business with contractors spread throughout Europe and in French Guiana. ESA governments have agreed to pay about 120 million euros per year to offset these charges in 2011 and 2012, but will review the figure at a meeting of ESA governments set for November 2012.

Arianespace Chairman Jean-Yves Le Gall, in a statement announcing the industrial contracts, said they are in line with the company’s commitments to ESA to work to reduce the costs of the Ariane 5 system in general.




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Peter B. de Selding was the Paris bureau chief for SpaceNews.