According to a recent story published by the Telegraph, Europe is becoming increasingly reliant on Elon Musk’s SpaceX rockets as a result of difficulties in its own space initiatives as well as geopolitical issues. Practically, this setback comes at a critical juncture in the global space competition, with Russia being cut off from Western space activities and China’s space effort making significant strides forward. As a direct consequence of this, for the very first time in several decades, Europe does not have the capability to successfully launch rockets.
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According to a recent report, the European Union’s (EU’s) Ariane 6 rocket, which is now undergoing testing in French Guiana, is actually three years past its initial timeline. The Ariane 6 rocket was designed to replace the Ariane 5 rocket, which has been in use by the European Space Agency (ESA) since 1996. The development of the Ariane 6 has been hampered by failures, despite the fact that the Ariane 5 had a success record of 96%. The start of the €4.4 billion (£3.8 billion) project, which had been scheduled to take place in 2020, has been delayed until 2024.
The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Director of Space Transportation, Toni Tolker-Nielsen, made the following statement:
We have been negotiating with them for a number of launches; […] The availability of Falcon 9 makes it a very good choice.
As a result, Brussels has begun discussions with SpaceX in order to use Musk’s rockets for the launch of its Galileo satellite, which will be a component of the European Union’s sovereign navigation system. In spite of this, the European Union (EU) has well-known concerns over the predominance of SpaceX’s Starlink satellite constellation, which led to the decision of the group to invest in its own network.
Additional difficulties for Europe involve the inability to access Russia’s Soyuz rocket project because of the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, which resulted in the grounding of Europe’s Vega-C rocket after a flight with that rocket was unsuccessful. Testing on Ariana 6 is slated to take place on August 29, and more testing is expected to take place in September.
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