PARIS — Europe’s EADS aerospace giant on March 9 said its Astrium space hardware and services division posted higher-than-expected revenue, profit and new orders for 2010 on the strength of telecommunications satellite deliveries and defense-related products and services.

EADS said Astrium, which builds satellites and is prime contractor for the French ballistic missile system and for Europe’s Ariane 5 heavy-lift rocket, reported revenue of 5 billion euros ($6.6 billion) in 2010, up 4 percent from 2009.

EADS Chief Financial Officer Hans Peter Ring, presenting the company’s results in a conference call with analysts, said the 4 percent increase is especially surprising since in 2009 Astrium revenue benefited from a one-time payment for catch-up orbital incentives totaling 200 million euros.

Pretax profit increased as well, to 5.7 percent of revenue compared with 5.4 percent in 2009. As has been the case in the past several years, the Astrium Services division and its multiyear contract with the British Defence Ministry for satellite telecommunications services helped increase profitability, Ring said.

Orders booked in 2010, at 6 billion euros, were also higher than EADS management had forecast. As of Dec. 31, Astrium’s backlog stood at 15.76 billion euros, up 7.6 percent from a year earlier.

Astrium delivered 10 satellites in 2010, and all of them are functioning well, Ring said. The Ariane 5 rocket conducted six successful launches.

New orders include the start of volume production  of the M51 strategic missile for the French navy and two optical reconnaissance satellites being built for the French Defense Ministry.

Astrium Services’ Paradigm Secure Communications division of Britain secured a two-year extension, to 2022, of its telecommunications services contract with the British Defence Ministry. The extension triggered an order to Astrium Satellites to build a fourth Skynet 5 satellite.

Astrium Space Transportation received orders from the 18-nation European Space Agency to begin preparatory work on a major modification to the Ariane 5 rocket that will add a restartable upper stage and increase the vehicle’s power. The program, called Ariane 5 Midlife Evolution, is expected to receive final endorsement by European governments in 2012.



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