A Strong Partnership with Asia
Since opening the Launch Service Providers’ ASEAN office in 1996, Richard Bowles, Managing Director of Arianespace’s Singaporean subsidiary, has worked to maintain the company’s cooperation and partnership in the region. This partnership was recently reinforced with the launch of two Asian satellites on an Ariane 5. Helen Jameson spoke to Richard Bowles to find out more about this significant launch, the role that Arianespace plays in the region, the company’s expansion and plans for the future.
Question: Please tell us about the Ariane 5 Vinasat-2 and JCSAT-13 launch and its significance for the Asian region.
Richard Bowles: The launch was very significant as it was for two Asian customers in two separate countries. One a long and established satellite operator that is launching their thirteenth satellite. The other is a new entrant to the market, launching their second. So for us it is a privilege. We have launched nearly all of SkyPerfect JSAT’s satellites, and Japan is a very important customer for us. It shows that the company appreciates our product and we are proud to have been selected again and to be launching another satellite for JSAT.
It is highly significant that we are launching two satellites for Asia. Asia is becoming increasingly important for us. The region gives us 30 percent of our turnover and this number is increasing. It is a very important market for us.
Question: Why was Arianespace selected for these two important launches?
Richard Bowles: For Vinasat, the national Vietnamese space programme, this is their second satellite launch. We launched Vinasat-1 for them in 2008. They are a new operator and as a new operator, you cannot really afford to have a launch failure. This would affect credibility. This is a cut throat world that we operate in, and a lot of Asian operators cannot afford the luxury of having a satellite fail. Both of these customers, Vinasat and JSAT, are highly aware that a launch failure is not an option and they have selected Arianespace due to our reputation for a highly reliable service.
Question: How is business generally for Arianespace in Asia? There are several emerging countries with space ambitions. Do you expect business to be brisk in the coming months and years?
Richard Bowles: I personally deal with the market East of India all the way down to Australasia. Since setting up the office here the market has supplied a steady stream of business. Business is good. The ASEAN office currently is building on a record level of commercial activity in 2011, underscoring the market’s continued significant growth and its contribution to Arianespace’s commercial order book. We have already signed one contract in Australia and we are looking to sign up more business in South East Asia this year. The level of business now is higher than it has been since the opening of the office. So, yes, we are definitely seeing more business in this region. I expect Arianespace’s traditional presence with the Ariane series of launchers to increase even more now that Soyuz and Vega have become part of the company’s launch vehicle family adding a whole new dimension to our capabilities in meeting ASEAN customers’ mission needs.
To read the rest of Richard Bowles’ interview, please see the May/June issue of Satellite Evolution Asia, out soon.