SpaceX chosen for two European projects instead of Russian launchers

PARIS (Reuters) – Europe will launch two rockets using launchers from SpaceX, the firm founded by Elon Musk, after the conflict in Ukraine blocked access to Russian Soyuz launchers, the European Space Agency confirmed on Thursday ( ESA).

The launches include the Euclid space telescope and the Hera probe, for a follow-up mission to Nasa’s DART probe which last month successfully altered the trajectory of a satellite in the first test of a future planetary defense system.

“Member states have decided to launch Euclid and Hera on Falcon 9,” ESA director general Josef Aschbacher told reporters after a meeting of the agency’s ministerial council.

The launches will take place in 2023 and 2024 respectively.

ESA had entered into preliminary technical discussions with SpaceX regarding the temporary use of its launchers after the conflict in Ukraine blocked access to Russian Soyuz rockets.

In addition, the ESA announced that a third satellite built by Airbus, the Earth Cloud Aerosol and Radiation Explorer, or EarthCARE, will be launched by the European Vega C instead of Soyuz.

It will be launched in early 2024, to fill a gap in the scientific modeling of climate change.

ESA is still looking for alternatives for two other missions.

(Report by Tim Hepher, French version Dina Kartit, said by Kate Entringer)

by Tim Hepher

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