Europe struggles to contain costs on its next generation rocket


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New budget estimates for replacing Arianespace’s Ariane 5 rocket now say that they will have to include the construction of an entirely new launchpad, raising costs.

Nonetheless, Europe is trying to keep its per launch cost down and competitive.

ESA and the Airbus-Safran joint venture that proposes to manage Ariane development also floated per-launch costs that were lower than previous estimates. The lighter-version Ariane 62, with two solid-rocket boosters, could be built for as little as 65 million euros assuming a nine-per-year launch rhythm, officials said. The heavier Ariane 64, intended mainly for the commercial market and capable of carrying two satellites weighing a combined 11,000 kilograms into geostationary transfer orbit, could be built for 85 million euros each, again assuming a nine-per-year production rate.

These numbers are tiny compared to what they have charged in the past, and though higher than SpaceX’s, are within a price range that will keep them in business, assuming they can achieve them.

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