ESA buys the first Ariane 6 launches

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The European Space Agency (ESA) has purchased the first two Ariane 6 launches to place four of its Galileo GPS satellites in orbit in the 2020-21 timeframe.

This is not a big surprise, since ESA is mandated to use Arianespace’s rockets, and the space agency is the obvious candidate for making the first commitment to this new rocket’s use.

The press release does not mention the price that Arianespace is charging for these launches, but I suspect it isn’t anywhere near as cheap as they will have to charge to truly private and commercial customers. Essentially, I am willing to bet that this contract award is a bit of crony capitalism, designed to pass some extra cash from ESA to Arianespace.



  • Edward

    Isn’t a government mandate of the use of a specific company’s product the very definition of crony capitalism?

    With such a mandate in place, the company can charge the victim of the mandate anything that it can get away with and still get contracts for launch (all the traffic will bear). If Arianespace charges too much then there won’t be enough leftover funding to build the satellites and probes that are to be launched, but if they charge too little then the commercial customers will have to pay more — perhaps more than a SpaceX (or Blue Origin) launch.

  • Edward: Since I specifically labelled this crony capitalism in my post, I think I was pretty clear that I agree with you. :)

  • wayne

    Mr. Z.–
    – hate to be picky, but we have a missing letter lost in the machinery.
    “Essentially, I am willing to be that this contract award is a bit of crony capitalism,…”

    Your willing to bet….

    These Europeans…. they literally invented the phrase “crony capitalism!”

  • Wayne: Yup, there was a letter missing, the “t” for “bet.” Now fixed.

    As I said, someone always notices. Thank you.

  • Edward

    I took the phrase, “I am willing to bet” to mean that there is some room for doubt.

    (By the way, I also noticed the missing letter, but I understood the meaning. I think that we understand that we all occasionally mess up our spellling, the grammar, and our punctuation too, but we usually manage to make ourselves understood.)

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