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The European Space Agency (ESA) has purchased the first two Ariane 6 launches to place four of its Galileo GPS satellites in orbit in the 2020-21 timeframe.
This is not a big surprise, since ESA is mandated to use Arianespace’s rockets, and the space agency is the obvious candidate for making the first commitment to this new rocket’s use.
The press release does not mention the price that Arianespace is charging for these launches, but I suspect it isn’t anywhere near as cheap as they will have to charge to truly private and commercial customers. Essentially, I am willing to bet that this contract award is a bit of crony capitalism, designed to pass some extra cash from ESA to Arianespace.