Europe hopes to take on SpaceX with new rocket launch

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SpaceX is dominating the global space industry — but Europe is hoping a new rocket will change that.

Axar.az reports that on Tuesday, the 200-foot tall Ariane 6 rocket plans to launch for the first time after years of delays from a spaceport in French Guiana, carrying the hopes of Europe's space industry and its ambition of competing with Elon Musk's rocket firm into orbit.

Over the past few years, Europe has been largely dependent on SpaceX to launch satellites into space, thanks to lengthy delays to Ariane 6 and the war in Ukraine, which left European nations unable to use Russia's Soyuz rockets.

In 2023, European Union officials struck a reported $195 million deal to have SpaceX launch four of its Galileo global navigation satellites.

More recently, the Ariane 6 suffered a major blow when European weather satellite operator Eumetsat announced it would use SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket to launch its next-generation weather satellite, rather than the Ariane 6 as planned.

That decision stunned European officials, with French space agency head Philippe Baptiste calling it a "quite brutal change" and criticizing Eumetsat for not buying European.

Those officials hope a successful launch will lessen Europe's reliance on Elon Musk, with the billionaire's satellite internet service Starlink already playing a crucial — and controversial — role in Ukraine's fight against Russia.

"This powerful rocket is the culmination of many years of dedication and ingenuity from thousands across Europe and, as it launches, it will re-establish Europe's independent access to space," said Josef Aschbacher, Director General of the European Space Agency, in a press release.

It remains to be seen whether Ariane 6 is capable of competing with SpaceX, which dominates the global space industry.

Arianespace, the firm behind the rocket, says it will offer prices that are competitive with SpaceX's current rockets.

But unlike Space X's Falcon, the Ariane 6 is not reusable, with ESA executive Toni Tolker-Nielsen telling Space News that there aren't enough launches planned to justify building a multi-use rocket.

That decision has attracted criticism from Musk. "They need to go all-in on reusability or be utterly uncompetitive," he wrote in a post on X last year.

"Rockets are no different from other transport technologies," he said, adding: "No one would buy a single-use airplane."

2024.07.08 / 18:30
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