It seems there are problems ahead for Europe’s planned Ariane-6 rocket, and its development costs. Trade mag Space News is saying that there is a near-€1 billion gap between the ‘contract’ that the European Space Agency has in place with the rocket’s builders Airbus-Safran Launchers.
Ariane-6 is on a ‘fast track’ design and build programme in order to compete both financially and in practical terms with Elon Musk’s lower-cost SpaceX Falcon-series of rockets.
However, there is currently no ESA/Airbus-Safran ‘contract’, reportedly just a 2-page letter of intent which summarises the common view as to the costs to develop and build the new rocket, It appears that both sides recognise there’s a funding gap and an underlying disagreement as to how the gap might be closed.
Space News quotes an unnamed government official saying that the situation was not a catastrophe , but at some point the “issue would need to be resolved”.