[Via Satellite 08-12-2015] The European Space Agency (ESA) has signed contracts with Airbus Safran Launchers (ASL), European Launch Vehicle (ELV) and the French Space Agency (CNES) for Europe’s next generation launchers. The agency’s contract to ASL, prime contractor for the Ariane 6, is worth 2.4 billion Euros ($2.7 billion), to ELV, 395 million Euros ($441 million) for Vega C, and to CNES, 600 million Euros ($670 million) for the launch site infrastructure.
The contracts cover all development work on Ariane 6 and its launch base for a maiden flight in 2020, and on Vega C for its 2018 debut. ASL and ELV are working closely together on the P120C solid-propellant motor that will form Vega C’s first stage and the Ariane 6′s strap-on boosters. The Ariane 6, as previously decided, will have a modular approach with either two boosters (Ariane 62) or four (Ariane 64), depending on the required performance. CNES is currently excavating the site for the Ariane 6 at Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.
“These contracts will allow the development of a family of European launchers, highly competitive in the world market and ensuring autonomous access to space at fully competitive prices for ESA’s member states,” said Jan Woerner, director general of ESA. ”They are an important change of governance in the European launcher sector, with industry being the design authority and taking full responsibility in the development and exploitation of the launchers, and committing to deliver them to ESA and the European institutional actors at specified competitive prices.”
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