* Expects record 14 launches in 2018
* Majority-owned by Airbus/Safran joint venture
* New rivals in form of SpaceX, Blue Origin
By Cyril Altmeyer
PARIS, Jan 9 (Reuters) - European satellite launch company Arianespace, facing competition from newcomers to its market, expects a record number of launches this year, which it said on Tuesday should stand it in good stead for strong future growth.
Arianespace, majority-owned by a joint venture of Airbus and Safran, said it counted on launching 14 satellites in 2018 after carrying out 11 launches in 2017.
“Extremely strong growth is expected in the next two decades, although at this stage, companies are in the process of re-adjusting their orders to ensure they have satellite connections,” Arianespace head Stephane Israel told reporters.
For 2018, the company is targeting seven launches of the Ariane 5 model, four launches for the Soyuz model and three launches of the Vega satellite launcher.
Arianespace, which booked 1.1 billion euros ($1.31 billion) worth of orders in 2017, is facing increased competition for the launch of commercial satellites with the emergence of rivals like tech billionaire Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin.
$1 = 0.8379 euros Reporting by Cyril Altmeyer; Writing by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Leigh Thomas