The European Commission has “pre-booked” four launches using Europe’s next-generation Ariane 6 rocket.
Europe’s Ariane 6 rocket is a year away from its maiden flight, but prime contractor ArianeGroup is already preparing upgrades its says can be introduced in the launcher’s first three years of service.
Space hardware builders say they fully expect 3D printing to revolutionize manufacturing, but cautioned that the technology is sometimes promoted without a full understanding of its pros and cons.
The European Space Agency will ask its 22 member states to fund an additional two to eight Prometheus reusable engines so that the agency can further its development.
Facebook has partnered with Hughes Network Systems to launch a satellite-enabled Wi-Fi hotspot service in Colombia.
The European Space Agency gave contracts to ArianeGroup and MT Aerospace on May 14 to develop a prototype upper stage that could lead to an advanced carbon-composite upgrade for the Ariane 6 rocket.
Giulio Ranzo, CEO of Avio, the Colleferro, Italy, company that builds the Vega and future Vega C rocket, said the ESA council session included missions for both Avio-built rockets during the transition years to Vega C.
To make Europe’s next-generation rocket more competitive, ArianeGroup aims to build the Ariane 6 at least 40 percent cheaper than the Ariane 5. ArianeGroup is applying the same cost targets to reflector antennas that go on geostationary satellites.
The European Space Agency’s 22 member states agreed April 17 to a workaround to get Ariane 6 production in full swing despite a dearth of public sector launch contracts.
Antenna builder ThinKom and fleet operator Inmarsat recently announced the completion of a series of tests using ThinKom antennas and Inmarsat’s high-throughput Global Xpress satellites.
ESA has awarded a contract to a group that includes Europe’s largest launch services provider and a former Google Lunar X Prize competitor to study a concept for a mission to mine lunar regolith.
With the maiden flight of the Ariane 6 now 18 months away (in July 2020), Arianespace CEO Stéphane Israël said the company had anticipated signing a manufacturing contract with ArianeGroup in the second part of last year to begin production beyond the first rocket.
"The end of the development of Ariane 6 and the need to increase competitiveness in the European rocket launch business compel ArianeGroup to reduce its capacity by the equivalent of 2,300 full-time jobs by 2022," the company said in a statement.
European rocket builder ArianeGroup, the company leading development and production of the Ariane 5 and upcoming Ariane 6 rockets, on Sept. 4 awarded a contract to a Swedish supplier for a reusable engine program.