Hand in hand

CNES and ArianeGroup step up cooperation in the launch vehicles sector 09-20-2017 |  1 minute


On 15 September, CNES and ArianeGroup—the lead contractor for the Ariane family of launch vehicles—signed an agreement to step up their cooperation, innovate more closely together and pave the way for the launchers of the future.

These two major players in Europe’s launch vehicles sector share a long history of cooperation that has underpinned the success of the Ariane family. Today, CNES’s Launch Vehicles Directorate (DLA) and ArianeGroup are fully committed to the successful development and marketing of the new Ariane 6 launch system, in their respective roles with ESA.

In today’s increasingly competitive global launch vehicles sector, it is vitally important to begin developing the technologies now that will fly on future evolutions of Ariane 6 from 2030.

One of these is the planned new low-cost, reusable Prometheus® engine, which CNES and ArianeGroup engineers began working on in 2015, with a view to proposing it as an ESA programme. Prometheus® will reduce production costs by a factor of 10 compared with Ariane 5’s current Vulcain engine.

Six countries signed up to Europe’s Prometheus® programme at the ESA Ministerial Council meeting in Lucerne, Switzerland, in December 2016, and work is ongoing with a view to having a prototype ready for testing in 2020.

The purpose of the cooperation agreement signed by CNES and ArianeGroup on 15 September is to pursue close cooperation under the roadmap designed to shape the long-term evolution of the Ariane launcher family, including the Prometheus® project, in order to continue working together to invent the new solutions that will enable Europe to maintain its global leadership in the launcher sector.

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Astrid Emerit         +                                             astrid.emerit@airbusafran-launchers.com

Julien Watelet       +                                             julien.watelet@airbusafran-launchers.com