The head of Arianespace asked European governments to provide his company with more support in order to balance what he called government support of American competitors “with no precedent.”
A Soyuz rocket successfully launched a French reconnaissance satellite Dec. 29 in what is likely the final launch of an active 2020 in spaceflight.
OneWeb resumed deployment of its broadband satellite constellation with a Dec. 18 launch of 36 satellites, the first since the company emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
An independent investigation of a Vega launch failure in November confirmed that misconnected cables in the rocket’s upper stage doomed the mission and made recommendations to allow a return to flight in early 2021.
Airbus signed a contract with Arianespace on Dec. 7 to launch a four-satellite optical Earth observation constellation aboard a Vega C rocket in 2023.
Executives of major launch companies said they doubted there was sufficient demand for more than a few small launch vehicle developers, citing their own efforts to provide rideshare launch services for smallsats.
Arianespace and OneWeb on Sept. 21 announced a revised launch contract that covers OneWeb’s constellation deployment with three fewer launches than originally planned.
Intelsat has signed a satellite contract with Maxar Technologies, placing the final order in a one-time surge in manufacturing deals triggered by the Federal Communications Commission’s upcoming C-band spectrum auction.
European launch provider Arianespace conducted a successful return-to-flight mission of Vega, its light-lift rocket, on Sept. 2, completing the vehicle’s first launch in 14 months.
Arianespace on Aug. 15 launched two communications satellites and a satellite servicer on an Ariane 5 rocket, completing the company’s first launch since the reopening of the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana.
The first half of 2020 has been sluggish for the commercial launch industry, but its problems can’t be explained solely by the coronavirus pandemic.