ESA’s Bold New Idea: Audit Arianespace

An Ariane 5 rocket soars into orbit on Dec. 29, 2010. Credits: ESA / CNES / Arianespace / Photo Optique vidéo du CSG

ESA Putting Arianespace Finances Under the Microscope
Space News

European governments have ordered a detailed audit of the sources and uses of money at the Arianespace commercial launch consortium and its industrial suppliers as a condition of granting the company’s request for what may be a permanent financial aid package to assure its ongoing financial viability, European government and industry officials said.

They said the audits, being led by the 18-nation European Space Agency (ESA) with the help of outside accounting experts, should settle the issue of whether Europe’s launch vehicle organization is unable to report a regular profit because it is overpaying its shareholder suppliers or otherwise wasting money, or because mediocre financial results are inevitable at any enterprise building and launching space-launch vehicles.

ESA Director-General Jean-Jacques Dordain said Jan. 14 that the audits, to be concluded before mid-March, have never been done in the 30-year history of the Ariane rocket family. ESA governments — presumably with the exception of the French government, whose CNES space agency is an Arianespace shareholder — have been in the dark all these years about what accounts for profit and loss at Evry, France-based Arianespace….

Once armed with the audit results, Dordain said, ESA will ask its member governments to make a choice: Accept things as they are with minor changes, or permit Arianespace to cast a wider net when seeking suppliers.

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