November 20, 2020


The European Space Agency (ESA) is overseeing the Ariane 6 programme, with CNES providing its expertise through integrated project teams and engineering for all of the launcher’s components and the launch complex. ESA has tasked ArianeGroup with developing the two variants of the Ariane 6 launcher and with their commercial operation through its subsidiary Arianespace. ESA has also appointed CNES as prime contractor in charge of developing ground facilities in French Guiana.

Streamlined industrial organization

The launcher prime contractor ArianeGroup has significantly lowered Ariane 6’s production costs with respect to Ariane 5. To this end, it has developed a streamlined, centralized production process based on vertical integration of the main contractors, specialized production sites in Europe, modernized production systems and a sequenced assembly line.



Formally incorporated on 1 January 2015, ArianeGroup is a French-German joint venture owned equally by Airbus and Safran. In July 2016, ArianeGroup (then Airbus Safran Launchers) acquired CNES’s share of Arianespace.

Integrated ESA/CNES team at ArianeGroup

To bring together under one roof all of the skills required to make the Ariane 6 programme a success, an integrated ESA/CNES team is working at ArianeGroup. ESA and CNES thus intend to share their experts’ know-how through a development approach focused on managing risk.

Ariane 6 industrial organization. Credits: ESA

Booster casings are manufactured in Italy and their nozzles at ArianeGroup’s facility in Le Haillan near Bordeaux. They are filled with solid propellant and then integrated with the launcher in French Guiana by Regulus at Europropulsion’s BIP booster integration building.

The Vulcain 2.1 and Vinci engines are produced at ArianeGroup’s factory in Vernon west of Paris. Certain parts are produced by additive manufacturing (AM).

Ariane 6’s lower stage is assembled in Les Mureaux near Paris. Unlike Ariane 5, it is assembled horizontally.

The upper stage is assembled in Bremen, Germany, by ArianeGroup.

New launch pad

Dubbed ELA4 (for Ensemble de Lancement n°4), the Ariane 6 launch pad covers a total surface area of 170 hectares and is located 4 kilometres north-west of the Ariane 5 launch pad (ELA3). Construction work began at the Guiana Space Centre in the summer of 2015 and is scheduled for completion mid-2021. ESA has appointed CNES as prime contractor for the pad and all of the ground infrastructure required to launch Ariane 6:

  • assembly, filling and control of the launcher
  • launch countdown
  • tracking and range safety


October 2020, the Ariane 6 launch pad under construction at the Guiana Space Centre.


Artist’s impression of the future Ariane 6 ELA4 launch pad at the Guiana Space Centre.

Credits: Cardete & Huet Architects, 2016.

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