Return to flight, competition for Ariane & Vega: Next 2 years set to remake Europe’s launch sector

by Peter B. de Selding

PARIS — Not so many years ago, the Space Transportation Directorate was among the sleepiest at the 22-nation European Space Agency (ESA).

The reliable Ariane 4 and Ariane 5 heavy-lift vehicles were successful enough on the growing commercial market to keep ESA subsidies relatively modest. The triangle of responsibility between ESA; the French space agency, CNES; and launch operator Arianespace provided relatively uneventful launcher production and operations. There was peace in the land for more than 30 years.

Things began . . .

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