Alouani is the Propulsion Subsystem Technical Authority for the third European Service Module (ESM-3) that Airbus is building for the U.S. Orion next-generation space system – which will transport astronauts beyond low Earth orbit for the first time since the Apollo program of the 1970s.

He serves as the lead engineer for ESM-3’s entire propulsion system, in charge of ensuring that it is designed, built and tested to the exacting requirements of a human-rated spacecraft as specified by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and European Space Agency (ESA).


The ambition of navigating the cosmos

“My job at Airbus is more than just a job…it’s a way to get closer to my ultimate dream of going into space,” Alouani said. “Being in contact with the Orion spacecraft enables me to see how it will be flown, providing knowledge I can apply if I’m on an Orion mission someday that may use a future ESM.”

He acknowledges that the ESM programme represents a major step forward for Europe – marking the first time NASA has delegated such a critical element of a human-rated spacecraft to European partners.   

“It’s a great sign of confidence that has been truly earned,” Alouani added. “I see this every time we have engineering meetings with my counterparts at NASA and Lockheed Martin, the U.S. prime contractor for Orion. We are treated as a key partner, we’re bringing added value to the program, and we are recognized by the U.S. for our professionalism and performance.”


The lifetime goal of becoming an astronaut

Working in the space sector – and eventually becoming an astronaut – has been a dream for Alouani since he was nine years old, and his entire educational path was oriented with this goal in mind. After graduating with a master’s degree in aerospace engineering, he joined Airbus Defence and Space – taking on multiple assignments that has continually broadened his experience during 12 years at the company.

Antoine Alouani


Alouani started as a member of the system mechanical engineering team for Europe’s heavy-lift Ariane 5 launch vehicle, working at the Airbus facility in Les Mureaux, France. When transferring to the company’s Bremen, Germany operation, Alouani joined the Ariane 5’s propulsion functional team with responsibilities that took him to the launch pad in French Guiana for final integration and testing campaign of Ariane 5’s upper stage, as well as ground operations until lift-off.

Alouani’s next job brought him closer to the realm of human spaceflight as a propulsion engineer on Airbus’ Orion ESM in the framework of the “delta” development for the propulsion subsystem on ESM-3 onwards. He first supported technical impact studies, architecture trade-off, local design changes and optimization for mass savings and reliability improvement. The experience offered Alouani the opportunity to become the Lead Engineer for this improved propulsion subsystem, with the goal of ensuring that it is designed, integrated, tested and qualified as agreed with NASA and ESA for the benefit of the mission and the safety of the astronauts aboard.


A true “citizen of the world”

In addition to his now-extensive professional experience, Alouani is well attuned to another characteristic of becoming a future astronaut: the international aspect that increasingly is a reality for large-scale human spaceflight endeavours. Born in Strasbourg with parental roots mixed between France and Syria, he experienced a multi-cultural environment from childhood – as this French city is only three kilometres from Germany and remains strongly influenced by a mix of ethnicities and multiple languages (French, German and the Alsatian dialect).

Growing up in the Geneva region, he regularly crossed the French, Swiss and Italian borders, while keeping in close contact with Germany through school exchanges. After graduating from France’s prestigious ISAE SUPAERO institute with a master’s degree in aerospace engineering, he finalized this degree at Canada’s Polytechnique Montréal technological university.

“The experience in North America actually made me a true European: while being away from Europe, I took a step back and appreciated what I was missing – especially the diversity of language, cultures and the way of thinking,” Alouani concluded. “Coming back from Canada, I wanted to serve Europe, and it meant not being ‘closed up’ in a national company or programme. This is why I put all of my efforts into joining Airbus…and today, the people I work with in my office include not only French, German, Greek, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish nationalities, but also American, Canadian, Mexican and even Columbian!” 


See also our Airbus Space Exploration page for additional topics.