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ESA orders up $3.8bn of rockets

The European Space Agency has signed contract worth a total of $3.8 billion (3.4bn) covering a fleet of rockets for satellite launchers over the next few years.

One batch covers the supply of the Italian-built Vega-C small satellite launchers, due to be available for launch in 2018. Italy’s ELV SpA, a joint-venture between Avio (70 per cent) and the Italian Space Agency (30 per cent) will build the new Vega rockets in a contract worth €395 million ($438m).

The heavyweight Ariane-6 rocket’s contract is worth €2.4 billion and the cash goes to the newly-established Airbus-Safran consortium.  The first flight is scheduled for 2020.

A third contract, valued at €600 million, goes to French space agency CNES, and funds the development of a new launch pad in French Guiana and adapted integration facilities.  These changes are expected to be ready by 2019.

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