SINGAPORE (Reuters) – European space launch company Arianespace expects around 11 launches this year, down from an earlier forecast of up to a record 14, its chief executive said on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: A replica of the rocket Ariane 5 is seen at the entrance of the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana, October 17, 2011. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo

Arianespace has conducted only three satellite launches so far this year but expects a much busier second half, Chief Executive Stephane Israel told Reuters on the sidelines of a telecommunications trade show in Singapore.

It completed 11 launches last year and in January had forecast up to 14 for 2018.

Israel said Arianespace had a healthy enough backlog for 14 launches but there had been a problematic launch in January and an issue with satellite availability that postponed a planned launch for May.

He said it was too early to provide a definitive forecast for 2019 but he expected there might be “11 or 12” launches, in line with this year.

Arianespace, majority-owned by Airbus SE and Safran SA, conducts launches for the European Space Agency as well as for private groups including telecom service providers such as Britain’s Avanti Communications Group PLC and Japan’s SKY Perfect JSAT Holdings Inc.

It competes for commercial customers against rivals such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX, United Launch Alliance – a joint venture between Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co – and China’s Great Wall Industry Corp.

Reporting by Jamie FreedEditing by Christopher Cushing

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