Polestar

Ariane 5 ready for launch
Flight 162 ready for launch
10 May 2004

The goal of Polestar is to reshape the working processes between the four leading players in Ariane – ESA, CNES, EADS-ST and Arianespace. In May 2003, European ministers in charge of space affairs decided upon a historic reorganisation of Europe’s space programmes, continuing a process begun in Edinburgh in 2001.

As part of that change, Polestar’s first task is to clarify and redefine the respective roles of these four main players. Their expertise and cooperation are essential to ensuring Europe’s leadership in launcher systems, itself a precondition for making space a key domain of European science and security.

The ministers set out a three-point mandate for reforming the launcher sector:

  • define and follow best practices, and inscribe them in ESA rules and procedures
  • optimise competencies and technical capacities across the system, while avoiding redundancy where possible
  • put renewed emphasis on performance and results, including control of risks and tighter, more transparent, cost controls

Everyone involved agrees that the launcher sector has achieved brilliant successes. However, it can be further improved by clarifying responsibilities and simplifying procedures, actions that will translate into increased control of risks and costs.

In the system that is taking shape, ESA will be responsible for the conception and direction of launcher programmes, assisted by CNES, while EADS-ST will assume the role of prime contractor, and Arianespace will manage commercialisation and launch operations.

Putting this realignment into practice requires the expertise, goodwill and trust of every stakeholder in the system. That is why a number of working groups, with members drawn from ESA, CNES, Arianespace and EADS-ST, have been brought together under Polestar. The process of sharing knowledge and defining processes is not over, but it has already resulted in an unprecedented detailed overview of the European launcher sector, and numerous ideas as to how its reorganisation can succeed.

Says Antonio Fabrizi, Director of ESA’s Launchers Programme, “Polestar is about clarification – creating a clearer decision-making process and with it, increased reliability in the launcher sector”.

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