PARIS — The Dec. 12 launch of four European Galileo navigation satellites was the 82nd consecutive success of the Ariane 5 rocket, a 15-year streak for a launch system that France celebrates as a national treasure and Germany tolerates as a welfare queen.
The welfare, in the form of annual payments by European Space Agency (ESA) governments to maintain launch-service provider Arianespace’s financial equilibrium, is scheduled to end with the retirement of Ariane 5 in 2023.
Ariane 6 is costing European governments about 3 billion euros ($3 . . .
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