Europe’s Ariane rockets need to be urgently overhauled in order to meet tough competition from the USA’s SpaceX and Russia’s Proton launch systems, says Arianespace boss Stephen Israel, speaking at a CommunicAsia event in Singapore.
“We have a newcomer in America with SpaceX. Yes, competition is increasing, but when competition is increasing, we need to be more and more agile,” said Israel. While recognising that Arianespace was the market leader, “we have to ask ourselves one question: what should we do to remain the leader? Europe is very serious about launchers, and Europe will not give up when it comes to launchers.”
Israelspecifically highlighted the news that Arianespace’s two biggest shareholders, the Airbus Group (formerly known as EADS) and French engine maker Safran, had announced a joint venture in Paris on Monday. The 50-50 venture will produce rocket launchers for commercial satellites to better compete with SpaceX.
“This is a significant move,” Israel said. “It’s a significant step. And I think it is the beginning of a refoundation of the launcher sector in Europe.”
He added that the move, including trimming out layers of costs would streamline production and improve decision-making and thus reduce costs.