ESA asked industry’s view of the smallsat launch business and got a sobering response

by Peter B. de Selding

LUXEMBOURG — Europe’s launcher sector remains deeply divided over whether developing a small rocket dedicated to small satellites makes any economic sense without a guaranteed anchor customer, preferable a government.

More than 20 European smallsat-launcher proposals have been made to various European government agencies, whether to the European Commission, to national governments with a proposed future spaceport, or to the European Space Agency, ESA.

The 22-nation ESA knows full well how costly it is to develop and, above all, maintain the financial viability of a launch service . . .

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