Arianespace SA is a French-based multinational company founded in 1980 as the world's first commercial launch service provider. It undertakes the production, operation, and marketing of the Ariane 5launch vehicle as part of the Ariane programme. Two other launch systems are offered by the company, the Soyuz-2 as a medium-lift alternative to Ariane 5, and the Vega as a lighter one.
In the midst of pricing pressure from U.S. company SpaceX, Arianespace made a November 2013 announcement of pricing flexibility for the "lighter satellites" it carries to Geostationary orbits aboard its Ariane 5. In early 2014, Arianespace requested additional subsidies from European governments to face the competition from SpaceX and unfavorable changes in the Euro-Dollar exchange rate. Reducing pricing allowed Arianespace to sign four additional contracts in September 2014 for a lower slots on an Ariane 5 SYLDA dispenser for the satellites that otherwise could be flown on SpaceX launch vehicle. Overall Arianespace signed 11 contracts in 2014 until September with two additional being in a late stage of negotiations. As of September 2014[update] Arianespace has a backlog of launches worth €4.5 billion with 38 satellites to be launched on Ariane 5, 7 on Soyuz and 9 on Vega, claiming 60% of global satellite launch market. By November 2014, SpaceX had "already begun to take market share" from Arianespace, and Eutelsat CEO Michel de Rosen—a major customer of Arianespace—said that "Each year that passes will see SpaceX advance, gain market share and further reduce its costs through economies of scale."
^de Selding, Peter B. (2013-11-25). "SpaceX Challenge Has Arianespace Rethinking Pricing Policies". Space News. Retrieved 2013-11-27. The Arianespace commercial launch consortium is telling its customers it is open to reducing the cost of flights for lighter satellites on the Ariane 5 rocket in response to the challenge posed by SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket.