Posted Oct 20, 2022, 4:49 PMUpdated Oct 20, 2022, 4:55 PM
Europe is finally turning to Space X to launch its next space missions. Deprived of the Russian Soyuz launchers and faced with the delay in the Ariane 6 tests, the European Space Agency (ESA) plans to launch two scientific missions with the Falcon 9 rocket from the American company, announced its director general.
The European probes Euclid and Hera will thus both be launched by the Falcon 9 designed by the company of Elon Musk, indicated Josef Aschbacher during a press briefing at the end of an ESA Council. The first, initially planned to be launched with a Soyuz rocket from Kourou, will study the expansion of the universe after its takeoff in 2023. Hera must, meanwhile, take off at the end of 2024 towards the asteroid recently deflected by NASA during the Dart mission.
“This is a temporary measure that we are taking due to the interruption of Soyuz firings and while waiting for the ramp-up of Ariane 6”, whose maiden flight was delayed in the last quarter of 2023, said the general manager. of the ESA.
In February, the Russian invasion of Ukraine cut short all European cooperation with Russia and deprived the European space port of Kourou, in French Guiana, of Soyuz launches. The Russian rocket had other European flights on order, in addition to those of ESA. Among them, the sending of four satellites of the Galileo navigation constellation and a launch for the CSO-3 military observation satellite intended for the French army. In September, ESA promised to do everything possible to switch to Ariane 6 as much as possible.
The program for the new Ariane 6 launcher intended to succeed Ariane 5 and to fulfill the missions previously carried out by the Russian Soyuz rocket had been launched in 2014. Initially planned for 2020, then 2022 due to the Covid-19 pandemic and difficulties development, the first flight of Ariane 6 has again been postponed to the last quarter of 2023.
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