Once dubious, then hesitant, ESA now committed to helping new launchers compete with ArianeGroup, Avio

by Peter B. de Selding

PARIS — The European Space Agency (ESA), after initial doubts, now fully endorses the idea that Europe’s launcher ecosystem must move from today’s model, where ArianeGroup’s Ariane 6 and Avio’s Vega-C are developed with ESA funding, to a competitive model in which startups are given broad support.

Instead of organizing government support for new generations of vehicles decided by governments, ESA will invest in technologies and flight demonstrations that can be used by established and startup launch players alike.

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