There are several hundred young shoots around the world dreaming of one day competing with the performance of the reusable launcher from Space Exploration Technologies and Elon Musk. Among them, many are established in Europe, where they are developing technologies and know-how from which ArianeGroup could benefit.
This is in any case the opinion that is formed in Germany, whose government could condition its support for the projects of this joint venture between Airbus SE and Safran SA to the inclusion of “technologies from European startups”. Berlin could thus support the next generation of Ariane 7 heavy launcher.
ArianeGroup wants to provide Europe with the launcher for its manned missions
The information is advanced on November 21 by the Bloomberg agency, which however specifies that it was unable to collect any comments from the interested parties, whether they are representatives of companies or ministries.
Remember that Europe in space has not yet mastered the reusable launcher technology pioneered by SpaceX. However, the European Space Agency (ESA) is preparing to decide on its future investments, which it wishes to accelerate to maintain an international rank weakened by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the fierce competition on the launch market. In this context, the support of Berlin is of capital importance for ArianeGroup.
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France intends to remain one of the biggest funders with Germany, which at the 2019 ministerial conference had become the first contributor to the European Space Agency (ESA), with 3.3 billion euros paid, against 2 7 billion for France. The Ariane 6 rocket remains the main engine of the European response, but the postponement of its first flight to the end of 2023 (initially planned for 2020) has penalized European ambitions.
ArianeGroup imagines a manned module for Ariane 64
Faced with these delays, and deprived since the war in Ukraine of Russian Soyuz launchers, ESA was forced to turn to SpaceX to launch two scientific missions. Europe also does not have a program to send its astronauts into space and depends on a barter system used so far with the Russians and the Americans.
In response, ArianeGroup presented its Susie project to the 22 members of ESA last September. This SUSIE vessel (for Smart Upperstage for Innovative Exploration) is a capsule designed to replace the current fairing of the Ariane 64 rocket. Capable of carrying five astronauts, this fully reusable stage is 12 meters long, 5 wide, for a weight 25 tons. Enough to deliver to Europe an autonomous means of sending its astronauts into space.