Advanced Television

ESA issues warning to Ariane 6 suppliers

December 1, 2023

By Chris Forrester

The European Space Agency (ESA) issued a strong warning to contractors supplying components for its new Ariane 6 rocket. They will be barred from raising prices over and above their originally quoted costs – and that ESA expects prices to be reduced.

Phillippe Baptiste, head of France’s CNES space agency, said this was not the time to be politically correct, and was blunt in stating “We will not accept that some suppliers take advantage of this programme. This is not acceptable and not possible. There have been some suppliers that have increased their costs by incredible amounts. We all know this. This is unacceptable. Competitiveness starts by reducing the cost of the supply chain all over Europe. This has to be done now. Not in 10 years’ time but now.”

The comments were made at a press briefing at the ESA headquarters in Paris on November 30th, where a new date for the inaugural test flight of the much-delayed Ariane 6 rocket was given, and journalists were told it would probably take place in June 15th-July 31st 2024. This launch date is some three years later than originally planned.

Toni Tolker-Nielsen, ESA’s director of space transportation, also used the occasion to remind suppliers that ESA will be reviewing their invoices before any payment are made. Moreover he reminded contractors that CNES was expecting existing quoted prices to be trimmed by 11 percent.

“We will request full visibility on costs, with audit rights,” Tolker-Nielsen said. “The whole supply chain will be examined before we establish the final numbers for the [financial] support.”

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