November 20, 2020


The European Space Agency (ESA) is the owner of Ariane 5 and oversees its development. To this end, it votes budgets, keeps track of project progress, and monitors schedules and cost on completion. The programme is funded by 10 European nations, coordinated by ESA. Every two to three months, ESA’s programme board meets to map out strategic directions for Ariane. Up to 2007, CNES was prime contractor serving as ESA’s operating arm.

Launch operations and preparations are performed at the Guiana Space Centre (CSG) north-west of Kourou. The facility belongs to CNES, which manages it as operator for ESA.

Through its Launch Vehicles Directorate (DLA), CNES is in charge of managing all technical and financial aspects of the programme, and is responsible for qualifying the launcher. Since 2005, the restructuring of the space sector has led CNES to provide closer oversight support to ESA. Integrated ESA/CNES teams have been set up to oversee the programme’s manufacturers.

DLA teams provide their expertise in:
    •    Engineering
    •    Project management
    •    Management control
    •    Contract management
    •    Quality assurance and RAMS (reliability, availability, maintainability, safety)

Arianespace, a subsidiary of ArianeGroup, is the commercial operator of Ariane 5 and the other launchers at the base and ensures proper contract execution. From the arrival of the launcher at the base to actual launch, launch campaigns (integration and preparation) last about 30 work days.

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