Weeks after its dramatic coup in landing a probe on a speeding comet, Europe is hoping a last-minute deal to provide funding for the workhorse Ariane rocket will prevent its space ambitions falling back to earth this week.
Anxious to preserve its own access to space, the 20-nation European Space Agency will seek to put aside differences over how to respond to U.S. low-cost rival SpaceX and safeguard thousands of high-tech jobs at ministerial talks on Tuesday.
After two years of wrangling, the outlines of an accord to fund development of a new Ariane 6 satellite launch vehicle appeared to be in place after Germany dropped its insistence on a prior upgrade to the current Ariane 5, officials said.
The ESA rocket can not at the moment compete with SpaceX on price. Recognizing the strategic problems of relying on another nation’s rockets, European countries are trying to figure out just how to proceed.
I expect it might be similar to Boeing vs Airbus, when the governments of France, Germany and the UK worked together to create and support a European aircraft manufacturer.
Of course, too much help will result in WTO sanctions so it will be interesting.