Arianspace has signed a deal worth more than €4bn to purchase five ECA Launchers from Astrium.

The ECA Launchers are a expendable launch system designed to deliver payloads into geostationary transfer orbit or low earth orbit and are manufactured under the authority of the European Space Agency.

The deal to provide the 35 launchers to Arianspace follows a letter of intent signed at the Paris Air Show in 2007. Arianspace previously ordered 230 launchers in 2004, the recent batch of 35 launchers will be delivered in 2010 and will be referred to as the ‘PB’ batch.

With this contract, Arianespace now has 49 Ariane 5 launchers under production, along with the upcoming service entry of the Vega and Soyuz launchers at the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana.

A spokesperson for Arianspace said that the contract confirms the full-fledged commitment of Arianespace and the European space industry to the long-term future of Ariane 5.

“These capabilities ensure independent access to space for Europe, and the best launch service and solutions on the market for all of Arianespace’s customers,” the spokesperson said.

Astrium is the sole prime contractor for Ariane 5, delivering a complete, tested and integrated launcher to Arianespace at the Guiana Space Center. Astrium manages all industry contracts for the 12 countries who are partners in the Ariane programme.

By Daniel Garrun.