December 5, 2023


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

Launch operations and preparations were 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, now the Directorate of Space Transportation or DTS), CNES was in charge of managing all technical and financial aspects of the programme, and is responsible for qualifying the launcher. After 2005, the restructuring of the space sector led CNES to provide closer oversight support to ESA. Integrated ESA/CNES teams were set up to oversee the programme’s manufacturers.

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

DTS teams are also responsible for guaranteeing the safety of people and property under the French Space Operations Act (FSOA).

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

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