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Capitalism in space: Faced with stiff and increasing competition from SpaceX, European governments are finally beginning to realize that their decades of poo-pooing the concept of rocket reusability might have been a big mistake.
In what was likely an unexpected question during a Nov. 19 interview with Europe 1 radio, French Economy and Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire was asked if SpaceX meant the death of Ariane.
“Death? I’m not sure I’d say that. But I am certain of the threat,” Le Maire said. “I am worried.” Le Maire cited figures that are far from proven — including a possible 80% reduction in the already low SpaceX Falcon 9 launch price once the benefits of reusability are realized. “We need to relfect on a reusable launcher in Europe, and we need to invest massively in innovation,” Le Maire said.
Then there was a report out of Germany that has concluded that SpaceX commitment to reusability is about to pay off.
The article also cites those in Europe and with the U.S. company ULA that remain convinced that they can compete with expendable rockets. In reading their analysis, however, I was struck by how much it appeared they were putting their heads in the sand to avoid facing the realities, one of which has been the obvious fact that SpaceX has been competitively running rings around them all. This is a company that did not even exist a decade ago. This year it very well could launch more satellites than Europe and ULA combined.