Launchers board meets in Arcachon

Board members visited the local launcher industry on 24 June
30 June 2010

The 250th meeting of the Programme Board for Launchers took place last week on 22-23 June in Arcachon, France.

The setting allowed for discussions with the board members on short-term issues as well as sustainable and affordable long-term perspectives, confirming ESA’s Member States commitment to the European launcher sector. The progress made in the Directorate’s activities was well recognised by Member States.

The day after the meeting, board members visited the launcher industry in the Aquitaine region. The day started with a visit to SME, specialists in solid propellants and chemical components. SME provides the propellant raw materials for the European launchers’ solid motors, and is involved in manufacturing the solid boosters through the Regulus company in French Guiana.

The day continued with a visit to SPS, which designs and produces the nozzles for Ariane 5’s solid motors and for Vega's P-80 first stage. The company is also providing the nozzle throats for Vega’s Zefiro-9 and Zefiro-23 solid-propellant motors.

Finally, the board visited EADS Astrium Transportation, the sole prime contractor for the Ariane 5 system. EADS is responsible for delivering complete and fully-tested launchers, supplying all the Ariane 5 stages, numerous subassemblies, the vehicle equipment bay and flight software.

A workshop with Member State delegations was then held on 25 June at ESA’s headquarters to discuss the trends of launch services and to consolidate launcher performance requirements in the long term.

Participants reflected on the evolution of the European launcher sector, including the characteristics and exploitation of ESA’s Next Generation Launcher, under the Future Launchers Preparatory Programme.

This was also the opportunity to review ESA and national space activities to prepare for the future and for guaranteed European independent access to space.

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