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Arianespace sheds costs to keep lead in space race

Rivals like SpaceX boast price edge for launching commercial satellites

The Ariane 5 lifts about half of all commercial satellites into orbit.

KOUROU, French Guiana -- Arianespace, the market leader and original provider of commercial launches for satellites, faces competition like never before.

Reliability remains a strong selling point, and Arianespace boasts a string of 76 successful launches. But price is a factor that private companies seeking a launch provider cannot afford to ignore. In addition to the alternative services provided by Japan and Russia, the French multinational now must grapple with the aggressive pricing of U.S. startup SpaceX.

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