Founded: 26 March 1980
Head Office: Évry, Essonne, France
CEO/President: Stéphane Israël
Revenue (2015): €1.42 billion
Employees (2014): 321
Arianespace is a multinational European launch provider founded by Frédéric d'Allest in 1980. In addition to offering launches on its own Ariane 5 launch vehicle, Arianespace offers missions aboard the Russian-made Soyuz-2 and Avio’s diminutive solid-fueled Vega rocket. The combination allows the launch provider to offer heavy, medium and small-lift mission solutions extending their market reach beyond the capabilities of their own launch vehicle.
The Ariane 1 launch vehicle was developed and built by Aérospatiale for the European Space Agency (ESA). Following the first successful launch of the vehicle on December 24, 1979, the ESA and the Centre National d'études Spatiales (CNES) formed Arianespace to manage the operation and marketing of the Ariane 1.
Aérospatiale would go on to develop the Ariane 2 and 3 on behalf of Arianespace. Both vehicles flew several missions before being retired in 1989. By 1990 Arianespace was developing and manufacturing their own rockets and the Ariane 4 was launched for the first time on January 22, 1990. The Ariane 4 would go on to fly over 100 missions suffering just three failures, one in 1990 and two in 1994.
Although the Ariane 5 was developed and initially manufactured in-house, Airbus Defence and Space became the primary manufacturer and supplier of the launch vehicle in 2015. The shift was the result of a joint venture that brought together Airbus and Safran and created the Arianespace parent company, ArianeGroup.
Airbus Defence and Space are currently developing the next-generation Ariane 6 launch vehicle. The rocket will not be a significant departure in capacity or performance but rather a push to drastically reduce launch costs.