Hand in hand

Airbus Safran Launchers and ONERA are cooperating more closely to prepare jointly the French and European space sector for the future 04-04-2017 |  5 minutes


The Partnership Agreement applies to R&T activities in the field of launch systems for both civil and military use anticipated in the coming decades

This agreement underscores how the two players complement each other and defines the conditions for optimum collaboration in the future

A Steering Committee comprised of members of the two entities has been created and the first ten research topics have been defined


Airbus Safran Launchers and ONERA, the French national aerospace research center, have decided to cooperate more closely to prepare for the future.

The Partnership Agreement, created over the past few months by the two entities to define jointly the most efficient modes of collaboration, was signed in Paris by the CEO of Airbus Safran Launchers, Alain Charmeau, and Bruno Sainjon, the CEO of ONERA.

With the aim of meeting the looming global competitiveness and technological innovation challenges in the space and defense technology fields, this partnership will highlight the basic research developed by ONERA in fields related to strategic and space transport systems and technologies, as well as create more rigorous management of joint applied research carried out.

“This partnership agreement is looking to the long term and focuses on the technologies which will be implemented in the coming decades, in future civil and military space launcher programs, from solid to cryogenic propulsion, drawing on the most sophisticated digital technologies. It will enhance the complementarity between ourselves, an industrial concern faced with the market and the changing needs of our institutional and commercial customers, and ONERA, whose competencies are recognized worldwide, and will thus be able to assist us with optimal preparation for the future”, said Alain Charmeau, the CEO of Airbus Safran Launchers.

“The objectives and performance contract signed at the end of 2016 by the French Minister for Defense sets out the roadmap for ONERA for the period 2017-2021. It more specifically defines the expectations of the official agencies, primarily DGA, CNES and MESR, with respect to ONERA in terms of ballistic missiles and orbital systems. It also reaffirms the benefits to be had from strong ties between ONERA and industry. Airbus Safran Launchers – a major player in this field (as were the firms that it now comprises) – and ONERA have quite naturally been working together regularly for several decades. The agreement signed today aims to strengthen and organize this cooperation to build a long-term partnership. In the light of the strategic importance of the space sector, both military and civil, and the emergence of growing competition, this partnership agreement represents a boost for the future of French and European industry. This partnership is fundamental for research and for preparing for the future. It will enable us to keep pace with the best in the world”, added the CEO of ONERA, Bruno Sainjon.

The 10 research topics defined for the partnership:

  • Modeling of combustion in solid propulsion engines
  • Solid propulsion experimental resources
  • Hybrid propulsion
  • Oxygen-Methane propulsion
  • Instrumentation of test resources
  • CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) codes
  • Disruptive technologies for reusable launchers
  • Advanced Systems Engineering methods
  • Atmospheric re-entry of space debris
  • Electromagnetic radiation and lightning protection


ONERA, a key player in aeronautics and space research, employs approximately 2000 people. Under the supervision of the Ministry of Defense, it has a budget of 230 million euros, of which more than half comes from commercial contracts. As a state expert, ONERA prepares tomorrow’s defense, meets future aerospace challenges, and contributes to the competitiveness of the aerospace industry. It is an expert in all of the disciplines and technologies of the field. All major civil and military aerospace programs in France and Europe have some of ONERA’s DNA: Ariane, Airbus, Falcon, Rafale, missiles, helicopters, engines, radars, etc. Recognized internationally and often receiving awards, its researchers train many doctoral students.

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