France, Germany and Italy agree on next-generation space rockets – Times of India


PARIS: France, Germany and Italy, the three largest contributors to the European Space Agency, said on Tuesday they have agreed to guarantee the future of next-generation Ariane 6 and Vega-C rocket launchers.
The countries also reaffirmed a preference for European rockets after the agency was forced to turn to American company SpaceX to launch two future science missions.
Ministers responsible for space for the ESA’s 22 member countries will meet in Paris on Tuesday and Wednesday to determine the agency’s funding for the next three years, with a plan of 3.2 billion euros ($3.3 billion). ) high on the agenda for European space launchers. the agenda.
“The public funding required to balance the institutional and commercial exploitation of Ariane 6 and Vega-C will be reviewed to take into account the evolution of market prices, institutional prices and economic conditions,” said a joint ministerial statement from the French Bruno Le Maire. , Robert Habeck from Germany and Adolfo Urso from Italy.
The ESA has had to struggle to find a way to get its missions into space after Russia withdrew its Soyuz rockets earlier this year in response to European sanctions over Moscow’s war in Ukraine.
The agency has also been hit by delays with Ariane 6, which is supposed to replace the successful Ariane 5.
The maiden flight of Ariane 6 was originally scheduled for 2020, but has now been pushed back to late 2023.
For Ariane 6 and the smaller Vega-C, “the allocation of funding will be commensurate with the commercial risks taken” to ensure their long-term competitiveness, the ministers said.
The three countries also proposed allowing the ESA to use European-made micro and mini launch systems, which are currently being developed by Germany and France.
The final decision on the way forward would be made in December 2023, the statement said.
Daniel Neuenschwander, ESA’s director of space transportation, told AFP that “we are very pleased with this joint statement because it makes it possible to create the conditions” to obtain the necessary funding for the launch programs at the end of the board.
He also said the statement means that the countries recognize “interdependence in the programs in which they have common interests”, be it the French-led Ariane 6, the Italian-led Vega-C or micro and mini launchers that promoted by Germany.
The ESA is asking its member states to contribute €18.5 billion over the next three years to finance space programs – an increase of more than 25 percent on the previous amount.
At the opening of the council on Tuesday, ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher said: “Whatever science and technology we pursue can only thrive in a healthy economic environment”.
Aschbacher told ministers that their countries would reap huge economic benefits from funding ESA’s space programs.
While the space industry now represents about $340 billion, it could reach about $1 trillion by 2040, he said.
The budget decision, expected to be announced Wednesday, comes amid increasing competition from China and other countries, as well as private companies such as SpaceX.
French economy minister Le Maire called on Europe to be “united” in space.
“At the end of these talks, there must be one Europe, one European space policy and unfailing unity in the face of Chinese ambitions and American ambitions,” he said at the council meeting.
“There is a price for independence. If we want to be independent, we have to put money on the table.”

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