Berlin ready to support European launch vehicle project, rival to SpaceX

There are several hundred young shots around the world who dream of one day competing with the performance of the reusable launch vehicle from Space Exploration Technologies and Elon Musk. Among them, many are established in Europe, where they develop technologies and know-how that ArianeGroup can benefit from.

At least that is the view being formed in Germany, whose government could condition its support for the projects of this joint venture between Airbus SE and Safran SA to include “technologies from European startups”. Berlin could thus support the next generation of the Ariane 7 heavy launch vehicle.

ArianeGroup wants to give Europe the launch vehicle for its manned missions

The information is forwarded on November 21 by the Bloomberg agency, which, however, clarifies that it was not able to collect comments from the interested parties, regardless of whether they are representatives of companies or ministries.

Remember that Europe in space has not yet mastered the reusable launch vehicle technology that SpaceX has developed. However, the European Space Agency (ESA) is preparing to decide on its future investments, which it wants to speed up to maintain an international stature, weakened by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and fierce competition in the launch market. In this context, the support from Berlin is of great importance to ArianeGroup.

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France intends to remain one of the main financiers with Germany, which at the 2019 ministerial conference had become the first contributor to the European Space Agency (ESA), with 3.3 billion euros paid, against 27 billion to France. The Ariane 6 rocket remains the main engine of the European response, but the postponement of its first flight to the end of 2023 (originally planned for 2020) has punished European ambitions.

ArianeGroup envisions a manned module for Ariane 64

Faced with these delays and since the war in Ukraine has deprived Russian Soyuz rockets, ESA was forced to turn to SpaceX to launch two science missions. Europe also does not have a program to send its astronauts into space and relies on a barter system used so far with the Russians and Americans.

In response, ArianeGroup presented its Susie project to the 22 members of ESA last September. This SUSIE (for Smart Upperstage for Innovative Exploration) craft is a capsule designed to replace the current fairing on the Ariane 64 rocket. This fully reusable stage is 12 meters long and 5 wide for a weight of 25 tons, which can carry five astronauts. Enough to provide an autonomous means of sending its astronauts into space for Europa.

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