Can space Europe recover from its setbacks?

A tank of Ariane 6, Europe’s next-generation space rocket, is pictured in Bremen, Germany, February 19, 2019. FABIAN BIMMER/REUTERS

ANALYSIS – Ariane 6 will not fly before the end of 2023, three years late. Vega C is unavailable for months. Europe is plunged into an unprecedented crisis.

It’s a Europe “plunging into a particularly serious crisis”according to Guillaume Faury, Executive Chairman of Airbus, who has just decided to set up a “space security and defense strategy“. This strategy will be detailed in March by the European Commission. It is indeed urgent to react because the situation is critical.

At the end of 2022, Vega C, a new version of the small Italian Vega rocket, failed to launch two satellites. Two months earlier, a new delay of the inaugural flight of Ariane 6, at the end of 2023, was announced. Ariane 5’s successor is now three years behind schedule. However, technical hazards can still disrupt this schedule. As if this black series were not enough, Europe still does not have an autonomous capacity in reusable rockets, unlike the United States, since 2015, with SpaceX’s Falcon 9. Nor in human spaceflight. European astronauts depend on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon to reach the International Space Station. And…

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