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Sun, May 16, 2004

Arianespace To Launch Space Tugs

Contract signed to take Orbital Recovery Ltd's. CX OLEV into space

Arianespace signed a contract today at the Berlin Air Show to launch a promising new spacecraft: Orbital Recovery Ltd.'s CX OLEV™ (ConeXpress Orbital Life Extension Vehicle), which will be used as a space tug.

The contract covers the first launch of a CX OLEV™ in 2007, followed by four other missions beginning in 2008. The order also includes provisions for options on follow-on missions in subsequent years.

These launch services will be provided by Ariane 5 on flights performed from the Spaceport in French Guiana.

The ConeXpress Orbital Life Extension Vehicle will be carried as a secondary payload on Ariane 5, and will have a mass at liftoff of approximately 1,200-1,400 kg.

Operating as an orbital "tugboat," the CX OLEV is being developed by European industry to extend the lifetime of in-orbit telecommunications satellites by 10 years or more. It also is capable of rescuing satellites that have been placed in incorrect orbits.

"Ariane's mission flexibility was one of the key factors in our decision to make it the exclusive launch system for CX OLEV," said Phil Braden, Orbital Recovery Ltd.'s Chief Executive Officer. "We are pleased to be part of the Ariane 5 manifest, which includes some of the world's leading satellite payloads."

Taking an original approach to spacecraft design, Orbital Recovery Ltd. has based its CX OLEV on the payload adapter that is used on every Ariane 5 mission. This allows flight-proven hardware to serve as the CX OLEV structure, and opens regular launch opportunities for the space tug on Ariane 5.

The CX OLEV is shaped like a truncated cone, and it will continue to serve as a payload adapter for Ariane 5 missions - with the launcher's primary satellite payload mounted atop it. After the primary payload has been released, the CX OLEV will be deployed from the launcher to begin its own mission as an independent space tug.

"It is a real pleasure to work with companies that offer innovative solutions, and we are proud to be able to provide our launch services for the CX OLEV system," Arianespace Chief Executive Officer Jean-Yves Le Gall added. "Our experience in handling multi-satellite payloads, combined with Ariane's performance, will enable the launcher to be ready when needed to serve Orbital Recovery Ltd.'s mission requirements."

FMI: www.arianespace.com, www.orbitalrecovery.com

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