The company Arianespace was founded on 26 March 1980 and is currently responsible for the operation and marketing of the European launcher Ariane 5. The largest shareholder is the French space agency CNES, which holds 32.53 % of the company. The head office of Arianespace is in Evry south of Paris. The European launcher launch from Kourou spaceport in French Guiana.

Although the majority of starts is carried out for commercial customers, the customer is the most starts so far the ESA. However, the ESA were many of the satellites sooner or later, which was founded for the satellite program Company ( Eutelsat from the ECS satellite and Meteosat weather satellite in ) on.


Arianespace held its first launch on 22 May 1984 by an Ariane 1 and brought the U.S. communications satellite SPACENET 1 successfully into space. The English start numbering the ESA switched from L to Launch (Eng. start) for French-speaking V for v ( dt flight ). V164 was the last time being start in which this numbering system was used on the website of Arianespace. After that, the flights on the website of Arianespace without number, but numbered ESA and EADS-Astrium -offs with the V- numbers were on. During the preparations for flight V194 and meanwhile begun preparations for flight V195 V- numbers were used on the websites of Arianespace again.

During the preparations for flight V201, the numbering system was changed in the delivery of 202 Ariane from Kourou. Arianestarts now get a VA number, Sojusstarts from Kourou VS a number and start the Vega VV number. From Flight V201 was VA201.

Worldwide importance was the company through the very successful operation of the Ariane 4, which once took off with a reliability of 97.41 % in the Sky 116. This brought Arianespace and the European space industry, especially when compared to U.S. and Russian launch - party great reputation among customers, launch their satellites with Arianespace.

With the recent launch of the Ariane 4 ended on 15 February 2003 once the triumph of European launchers. Indeed, the successor, the Ariane 5 had to get after several false starts problems like customer confidence, as succeeded with the Ariane 4. However, now was the Ariane 5 ECA to win back the trust of customers by a higher reliability for the most part. The development costs of the Ariane 5 should be DM 7.8 billion originally, but it was at the end a total of 12 billion DM

Because this crisis took a long time and because the size of the satellite masses to drift apart more and more, it was decided several years ago to expand the range of launchers. Firstly, the rocket Vega is able to transport loads up to 1.5 tons in low-Earth orbit and thus cover the satellite market of small satellites. On the other hand, the carrier offer will be extended in addition to the Russian Soyuz rocket from 2010 in a new unmanned version 3.5 tons from Kourou can transport in the GTO. This is so primarily cover the market of medium-sized payloads, which was extremely successful mitbesetzt by the year 2003 by the Ariane 4.

In the past, Arianespace had multiple financial injections from the pot of the European Space Agency get to survive. Recently the ESA Ministerial Council decided in February 2004 to support the company to maintain Europe's independent access to space and the ailing Ariane 5 to promote.


Because the satellite launch market has since recovered, Arianespace since 2007, thereby to increase the launch rate of the Ariane 5 ECA. Also for the success of Arianespace helps that the company responds quickly and flexibly to changing customer preferences and eg briefly during the launch preparations payloads can exchange without major delays.

In spring 2011, Arianespace then began thus to prepare for an announced expansion of its family of launchers. Even of 2011, the Soyuz and Vega Ariane 5 to be added.


Overall, more than 23 companies from ten countries and the French space agency CNES stake in Arianespace. The largest shareholder is the CNES. Arianespace has 24 shareholders following:

Partnership with non- significant proportion are with "ns" marked. As of December 2010