– News of May 17, 2017 –
Arianespace plans to launch twelve launches this year. The company has three active launchers in its portfolio: Ariane 5 for heavy loads, Vega for much lighter fire, and through a partnership with Russia a number of Soyuz rockets.
The company, which has recently come under the control of Airbus, faces a number of challenges. The competitive pressure exerted by SpaceX in particular must push the Europeans out of their comfort zone.
For the moment their response takes shape under the name of a new launcher, Ariane 6 which should allow the firm to lower its prices by 40%. Will this be enough to maintain leadership in commercial launches? Nothing is less sure. Arianespace executives have long laughed at SpaceX’s attempts to recover and have begun to take them seriously when faced with a fait accompli. If reusable launchers become the norm and the price of access to space collapses, Arianespace could find itself in a difficult phase, the time to develop a new truly competitive launcher.