Airbus Safran Launchers
A French reusable rocket engine program is getting a boost from the European Space Agency, which is ready to sign a contract with Airbus Safran Launchers that would lead to an engine test three years from now.
The recent German-Italian agreement to divide production of casings for the future Ariane 6 rocket’s strap-on boosters, which also serve as the first stage of the Italian-led Vega-C small-satellite launcher, was a victory for political harmony in Europe.
The European Space Agency (ESA) on Sept. 13 gave final go-ahead for development of the next-generation Ariane 6 heavy-lift launch vehicle, confirming a rendezvous that many thought impossible when it was set in December 2014.
The European Commission on July 20 approved the Airbus Safran Launchers (ASL) takeover of launch-services provider Arianespace, saying companies had accepted conditions the commission imposed to minimize the chance of anti-competitive behavior.
The July 30 consolidation of Airbus Safran Launchers allows the transition of 7,500 employees to the new entity from the two parent companies following resolution of a tax issue but has no bearing on the investigation of ASL by European Commission authorities.
Rocket engine builder Safran on April 26 said its Airbus Safran Launchers (ASL) joint venture to be “fully operational on the 1st of July” following a resolution of “technical and administrative formalities.”
Europe’s rocket industry has gone 40 years by integrating its Ariane rockets vertically and then rolling them out by rail, upright, to the launch pad. That is about to end.
Europe’s next-generation Ariane 6 rocket remains on track for a 2020 first launch with a cost structure allowing the heavier Ariane 64 version to advertise per-kilogram prices below today’s Space X Falcon 9, European government and industry officials said April 6.
The president of the Italian Space Agency on March 17 voiced strong opposition to a French industrial takeover of Italy’s Avio, which is prime contractor for the Italian-led Vega small-satellite launcher, in the latest indication of the challenges facing European launch-sector reorganization.
The company designing Europe’s next-generation Ariane 6 rocket – to be integrated horizontally, not vertically as previous Ariane vehicles — expects to submit a firm, fixed-price bid for a first batch of rockets by the end of this year, the company’s chief executive said Jan. 28.
Europe’s Airbus Safran Launchers joint venture company, which is leading development of the Ariane 6 rocket, has fallen behind schedule as it awaits a ruling by French tax officials on an expected cash payment from Safran to Airbus.