Who does what?

An Arianespace launch is the result of teamwork that brings together skilled personnel from multiple organizations


As the commercial operator of the Ariane, Soyuz and Vega launch systems at French Guiana, Arianespace is responsible for placing its customers’ satellite payloads into orbit. It markets launch services, acquires the launch vehicles, prepares the missions and handles all relations with customers – with the dual goals of being a leader in commercial space transportation and guaranteeing Europe’s independent access to space. At the Spaceport in French Guiana, Arianespace manages the industrial team that integrates and prepares for launch, and the company oversees the satellite campaign from the spacecraft’s arrival through its injection into orbit.


ArianeGroup – a joint venture of Airbus and Safran, established in 2014 – is the Ariane program prime contractor. In this role, the company manages the entire industrial supply chain, from the manufacture of equipment and stages to the complete integration of the launcher in French Guiana, in line with customer specifications. Its goal is to provide comprehensive solutions in an increasingly competitive market, based on a family of versatile, cost-competitive launchers that meet the needs of both government and commercial customers.


The Russian federal space agency, Roscosmos, is the coordinating hub for this country’s space activities. In particular, it is responsible for license allocations and intergovernmental relations, and serves as the launch authority in charge of range operations. Under Roscosmos’ direction are: the Samara Space Center, which handles design, development and manufacture of launch vehicles – including the Soyuz first, second and third stages and fairing; NPO Lavochkin, which manufactures and integrates Soyuz’s Fregat upper stage, and is responsible for launch operations; and TsENKI, which is in charge of launch planning and the provision of associated services, the design, technical and operational management of the launch pad and associated facilities dedicated to Soyuz.


Colleferro, Italy-based ELV is prime contractor for the design and development of Europe’s Vega launcher, and also is responsible for this lightweight vehicle’s integration in French Guiana. The company, a public-private joint venture, is owned by Avio and the Italian Space Agency (ASI).

The European Space Agency

The European Space Agency (ESA) is the owner of the Spaceport’s launch infrastructure for Ariane 5, Vega and Soyuz launchers. This includes launcher and satellite preparation buildings, launch operation facilities and the launcher production facilities for the Ariane 5 solid propellant boosters that are largely manufactured and integrated at the spaceport. ESA also maintains a small team at the Spaceport to act as its representative in French Guiana.

CNES, the French national space agency

France’s Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales operates the Guiana Space Center (Europe’s Spaceport). Its tasks include maintaining and developing the infrastructure; ensuring the safety of people and property before, during and after a launch, both at the site and in French Guiana; providing essential support for launcher and satellite preparation; ensuring that launch activities do not have a negative impact on the environment; coordinating operations during launch; and organizing public visits to the Spaceport.

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