Airbus-Safran gets go-ahead to build first Ariane 6 test rocket

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Capitalism in space: The European Space Agency (ESA) has given Airbus-Safran the go-ahead to build the first Ariane 6 rocket, which will be used for ground tests.

It is really important to recognize how this article illustrates the major things that have occurred in how Europe is builds its rockets. Note first that Arianespace is not mentioned at all, even though government bureaucracy has been in charge of ESA’s commercial business for decades. It is not in control any longer and is thus irrelevant. Note also that the design was created solely by Airbus-Safran, and that the only thing ESA did was approve it. The agency did not micromanage it, or revise it, or insist on changes, as would have been the case less than three years ago. Instead, it appears they essentially rubber-stamped it, leaving this work entirely to the private company, which in the end will operate and sell the rocket entirely for profit, while also providing ESA its needed launch vehicle.

At first glance, it appears that the ESA has adopted here the recommendations that I made in my policy paper, Capitalism in space:. In truth, they made these policy changes well before my paper was even written, which helps illustrates forcefully their universal correctness. If you want things built well and efficiently, you give people ownership of their work, you let them create it, and you get out of the way.

Or to use that forgotten word, you let freedom work its magic.



  • wayne

    John Papola:
    -The Beauty of Emergent Order

    [He & Russ Roberts created the Keynes v Hayek rap-video’s.]

  • wayne

    pivoting, but…. Capitalism In Space.

    Not familiar with this guy, but he makes some good points.
    -connected with “NanoRacks LLC.,” “MirCorp,” and “RSC Energia,” (this is circa 2010)

    Jeffrey Manber
    “Can Capitalism Survive in Space?”

  • mkent

    While I applaud Europe’s taking another step toward commercial space, I feel I must note that this will make them about as commercial in the launch market as McDonnell Douglas and General Dynamics were in the early 1990’s with their Delta II and Atlas II, respectively. Both the Delta II and the Atlas II were developed with government (Air Force) funds and then turned over to their respective contractors to operate. That’s what Europe is doing here.

    It’s still a far cry from the late 1990’s when Boeing and Lockheed Martin were funding launch vehicle development entirely themselves (Delta III, Delta IV Medium, and Sea Launch) or effectively in a 50/50 government / industry partnership (Atlas V).

    It looks like we’ll enter the 2020’s with Delta IV, Atlas V, and Falcon 9 still as the most commercial launch vehicles on the market.

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