Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar to the right or below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.
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.