ESA relaxes prove-it-first requirement for small launchers, says Ariane 6 delay can’t be blamed on GEO-return policy

by Peter B. de Selding

PARIS — The European Space Agency (ESA) is modifying its policy on dealing with the half-dozen small-launcher startups in Europe to contract for launches from these companies even before they conclude a successful inaugural flight.

The 22-nation ESA up to now has declined to contract with startup launch providers before they have demonstrated their technical chops in the form of an orbital flight.

It has thus declined to go as far as the German Space Agency, DLR, or NASA and the . . .

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