Arianespace aims for greater cooperation from the governments of Europe


The head of Arianespace urged European governments to give more funding to his organization to offset what he considered “without precedent” government support for American rivals. Stéphane Israël, Chief Executive Officer of Arianespace, stated at a press conference on January 7 that the organization had ended 2020 with sales of close to EUR 1 billion ($ 1.2 billion), nearly the same as 2019. He continued that while the business has not finished its 2020 accounts, the company ought to have “balanced financials” for that year.

Though he considered the “very good news” of these financial performances, Israel was worried about the potential of Arianespace to contend with American firms, especially SpaceX, noting U.S. government investment in aerospace that is much greater than the mix of the European Union, European Space Agency and European national governments. “For the European policy, what is occurring in the United States must be taken into account as there is an unprecedented level of public money, so it is clear that our rival is gaining from this money,” he noted. He also referred to SpaceX as “our rival” during the 90-minute meeting.

The National Security, Space Launch prizes granted to SpaceX as well as the United Launch Alliance in the month of August are an indication of that. That also included an original $316 million award to SpaceX for a single mission. The SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell subsequently said she required the launch itself, equipment, and other expenses to launch itself. ‘It’s pretty impressive,’ said Israel of the deal. He stated that he was not condemning the funding obtained from the United States government by businesses such as SpaceX, but rather seeing it as confirmation that European governments ought to step up.

“There is an excellent argument for the renewal for this decade of the public-private collaboration around Ariane 6 as well as Vega C and creation of requirements for a more healthy competition between Europe as well as our U.S. competitor.” Asked to comment later in the meeting, Israel referred to a large purchase for the releases of Ariane 6 as well as Vega C planned by the European Commission for Galileo and Copernicus missions this year. Last year, European Union officials identified the order to value one billion euros, while Israel claimed that the exact amount of the agreement had not yet been finalized.

Israel said that if the E.U. were to continue with such a scheme, it would possibly be established as a public-private partnership, or what is commonly referred to as PPP. “We recognize that what European Commission is thinking of is a PPP venture at the end of the day. However, we are at the preliminary stage of this tale.”