March 1, 2015

Who does what on Ariane 5?

In its capacity as the Ariane 5 oversight authority, ESA approves budgets, oversees project progress, monitors costs on completion and manages schedules. The programme is financed by 10 European nations, coordinated by ESA as funding authority. ESA also organizes a programme committee meeting every 2 to 3 months, which establishes the main roadmap for the launcher series. Until 2007, CNES, as programme prime contractor, acted as ESA's operational arm for Ariane 5.

ESA and CNES roles

Through its Launch Vehicles Directorate (DLA), CNES manages the programme’s technical and financial aspects, and has responsibility for prototype qualification flights.

DLA teams provide expertise in:

  • Engineering
  • Project management
  • Management control
  • Contract oversight
  • Quality assurance and dependability (RAMS)

Ariane 5 ECA on its launch pad. Credits: CNES/ESA/Arianespace/CSG Service optique.

Since 2005, the restructuring of the space sector has led CNES to forge closer ties with ESA oversight teams and provide support to them. Joint ESA/CNES teams have been formed to lead the way.

Industrial set-up

The Ariane 5 industrial set-up and geographic work share are somewhat different to those that existed for Ariane 1 to 4.

The launcher on its launch pad. Credits: CNES/ESA/Arianespace/CSG Service optique.

For the first time, France provided less than 50% of funding, and the design tasks involved more European partners.

As with the previous series of launchers, Arianespace is in charge of marketing Ariane 5 and conducting launch operations at the Guiana Space Centre.
Arianespace operates all Ariane 5 launches, the first qualification flight (501) being the only exception. CNES holds a 34% share of Arianespace, which has a total of 50 shareholders from 12 European nations.