A letter signed by almost all of the world’s major satellite operators has been sent to the European Space Agency saying that if it doesn’t authorise and start building the new Ariane-6 rocket then Arianespace risks being an “also ran” as far as competitive launch activity is concerned. The letter was discussed at Euroconsult’s Business Week event in Paris.
One option is that the existing Ariane-5 rocket be upgraded as an interim measure, but the letter (to ESA Director Jacques Dordain) says this is not a sensible option, and might only be introduced around 2018.
Instead the letter urges the new Ariane-6 design to be in place – and working – by 2019, or else risk that Arianespace itself be seriously sidelined. The estimates are that it will take some $3 billion to finish the task.
Signatories to the letter include Intelsat, SES, Eutelsat, Inmarsat, Hispasat and HellasSat. Eutelsat itself indicated that it was prepared to commit to the debut launch flight of an Ariane-6 rocket – provided it was in place and ready to go by 2019.