European launch provider Arianespace has revamped its management structure as, in CEO Stephane Israel’s words, it looks to “remain the leader in commercial space transport in a competitive environment undergoing deep changes.” While not mentioning SpaceX by name, the vertically integrated U.S. challenger – with its packed manifest and cheaper rocket – has been putting pressure on long-time players such as Arianespace and ILS for some time.
European launch provider Arianespace has revamped its management structure as, in CEO Stephane Israel’s words, it looks to “remain the leader in commercial space transport in a competitive environment undergoing deep changes.”
While not mentioning SpaceX by name, the vertically integrated U.S. challenger – with its packed manifest and cheaper rocket – has been putting pressure on long-time players such as Arianespace and Russia’s ILS for some time.
The internal reorganization is one of a number of measures designed to help the French group better compete.
The key change is the creation of a missions operational unit headed up by Luce Fabreguettes, who was previously Arianespace’s VP of business development.
Missions is now one of Arianespace’s four operational divisions, alongside sales & business development, engineering and operations, and technical and quality.
Fabreguettes’ department will oversee the company’s quality, cost and deadline commitments across its three launch vehicles: Ariane 5; Soyuz and Vega.
Reliability has been Arianespace’s selling point, with Ariane 5 completing its 71st successful launch in a row last month, but that comes at a cost for customers.
SpaceX markets a Falcon 9 mission for just over US$61m, whereas an equivalent Ariane 5 launch was estimated at €100m (US$137m) by its former CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall in 2014. The more established SpaceX gets, the more pressure on Arianespace’s price point – something Israël’s company is all too aware of.
Fabreguettes is joined in the unit by Marino Fragnito, who has been given responsibility for Vega. An alumnus of Vega manufacturer ELV, his appointment comes as Arianespace is under pressure not to neglect the smaller launch vehicle as its ownership switches hands.
The European Commission is currently investigating Airbus Safran Launchers’ agreement with French space agency CNES to increase its stake in Arianespace from 39% to about 74%. One of the issues the antitrust regulator is assessing is, if the deal went through, whether Arianespace would give priority access to ASL’s Ariane rocket ahead of Vega.
Commenting on the Commission’s concerns in March, Israel said Arianespace has “always been” committed to the success of Vega.
“We have taken commercial risk on Vega, and we want to go on doing that,” the CEO said.
ASL taking control of Arianespace represents a full privatization of the launch provider and consolidation in European space – again, part of the fightback to leaner business models the other side of the Atlantic.
Fabreguettes has been added to Arianespace’s executive committee, and Fragnito will join its meetings when strategic issues regarding Vega are discussed.
Israel’s committee already includes sales and business development SVP Jacques Breton, CFO Michel Doubovick, and Louis Laurent, who was promoted to engineering and operations SVP this month.
Alongside Fabreguettes’ addition, three others have been added to the executive committee taking its number to seven: CTO Roland Lagier; human resources SVP Philippe Nicolai; and Isabelle Veillon, brand and communications SVP. Lagier and Veillon have been elevated to more senior roles as part of the management shake-up.
Israël said the expansion of the committee would strengthen its management role as it now encompasses all of Arianespace’s functions.
“This organization is designed to make the marketing, sale and operation of our three launch systems even more efficient,” Israel said.