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According to the former CEO of Arianespace, now head of the French space agency, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 costs significantly less to launch than the Ariane 5

According to the former CEO of Arianespace, now head of the French space agency, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 costs significantly less to launch than the Ariane 5.

How big is the difference? Jean-Yves Le Gall, who until mid-2013 was chief executive of Evry, France-based Arianespace and is now president of the French space agency, CNES, addressed the point in Feb. 25 testimony to the French Senate. According to Le Gall, launching a satellite on an Ariane 5 costs around 100 million euros ($137 million). After subtracting the amount of European Space Agency subsidies to Arianespace, the per-satellite cost drops to about $100 million, he said.

Hawthorne, Calif.-based SpaceX, he said, would charge $60 million to $70 million to launch the same satellite aboard the Falcon 9. In fact SpaceX has charged even less than that to its first few commercial customers.

It is for this reason that Arianespace is struggling to decide how to build its next generation rocket. They have find a way to do it cheaper, something that is very difficult for this multi-headed European conglomerate to do.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.


  • geoffc

    Ariane 6 is slated for launch in 2021 or so. At a cost that today, cannot compete with SpaceX. They are not look at any kind of reuse, just commonality of solid boosters, so that they manufacture 4 basically similar boosters for each launch.

    By 2021, SpaceX will be flying reusably, in pretty much any rational scenario. Ariane 6 is obsolete before they even finish designing it.

  • Robert Clark

    The space industry still is not getting the lessons learned from NASA’s commercial space program. For both SpaceX and Orbital Sciences, for both launchers and spacecraft, the development costs were reduced by 90%(!) by the commercial space approach. That’s four separate instances proving the principle.
    By commercial space, each of those developments that would normally cost in the billion dollar range were developed for a few hundred million dollars, an order of magnitude reduction in cost. At this cost range any industrialized country could afford to have their own independent space program, no consortiums such as the ESA required.

    Bob Clark

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