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The heat of competition: The European joint-venture between Airbus and Safran is now demanding that be given total control of Arianespace and the development of the new Ariane 6 rocket.
From Airbus’ perspective, the production of rockets in Europe should be done the same way commercial Airbus aircraft are built. “The launcher business in Europe in the beginning of 2014 was one in which the vehicles were designed by government agencies, commercialized by a company called Arianespace, produced by an ensemble of companies, and then launched by Arianespace. This is not an optimal situation,” [Airbus strategy director Marwan] Lahoud said.
“The optimal solution is to industrialize the process, with one prime contractor that designs, builds, sells and operates the launchers, with a supply chain — much as we do with Airbus today.”
Essentially, this would be a shift in ownership of the rocket, moving from the government to the private company. We have seen the same process in the U.S., with the new commercial space products no longer controlled or designed by NASA. The result has been lower cost, faster development, and greater profits.