Vega Rocket Boosts Avio’s Revenue Nearly 4 Percent

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PARIS — Italian rocket manufacturer Avio on March 29 said its space division increased revenue in 2011 by 3.8 percent over 2010, to 296.5 million euros ($383.1 million), with the new Vega small-satellite launch vehicle accounting for most of the increase.

Turin-based Avio is Vega’s prime contractor through its 70 percent share of ELV S.p.A., in which the Italian Space Agency owns the remaining 30 percent. Vega successfully conducted its maiden flight in February.

In addition to its work on Vega, Avio has a 14 percent share in the production of the heavy-lift Ariane 5 rocket through its work on Ariane 5’s solid-fueled strap-on boosters. The Ariane 5 launched five times in 2011 and is expected to conduct seven missions in 2012.

Avio has a 3.8 percent equity stake in Arianespace, the Evry, France-based consortium that markets Ariane 5 and Vega rockets, in addition to the medium-lift Russian Soyuz vehicle.

Anticipating a successful inaugural flight for Vega, Avio in 2011 began production of the first of five Vega rockets that the European Space Agency has ordered for its own science and Earth observation satellites. These flights will be used by the Vega industrial team to reduce the rocket’s manufacturing and operating costs to make it competitive on the global market.