Jean Marie Luton, the European Space Agency's (ESA) outgoing director-general, will become the full chairman of Arianespace in July, replacing Charles Bigot, who is to retire.

Francis Avanzi, the European commercial-launcher organisation's director-general, who was hired in 1995 to replace Bigot, will leave the company.

Luton's appointment was encouraged by the French Government and national space agency CNES - which has a 33% shareholding in the company. The move was made in the face of opposition from Arianespace.

In an attempt at compromise, the Arianespace board had earlier appointed Luton chairman of a part of Arianespace, leaving Avanzi to lead the operating division.

Luton's first task is to begin an immediate review of future launcher strategy.

Source: Flight International