The private European Arianespace consortium this week ordered 20 Ariane 4 rocket launchers from the European space industry, boosting British firms supplying the programme.
The £1.19bn order will allow Arianespace to satisfy what it describes as a `booming’ launch demand expected between 2000 and 2002.
Although no figures are available, British Aerospace is lead contractor on the Ariane 4 Spelda module and also contributes to the rocket’s liquid propellant strap-on boosters. Matra Marconi Space leads on the Ariane 4 Asap platform and on its vehicle equipment bay.
Britain has a 3% equity stake in Arianespace. This is split between 1.89% held by Matra Marconi Space UK – the British arm of the Anglo-French joint venture – and another 0.9% held by GEC-Marconi, 0.13% held by Meggit (UK) and 0.08% held by Midland Bank.