The first launch of the new design Ariane 6 rocket is still four to five years away (planned first flight currently in 2020), but French government and industry officials said April 6th that the new rocket would beat arch-rival SpaceX on a price-per-kilo basis.
The bold statement came from Airbus Safran Launchers (ASL), the newly-established consortium which is building the rocket. ASL chief executive Alain Charmeau, at a press briefing, said that a cluster of delays, not least the wrapping up of the actual deal which establishes ASL, had set the project back a few months, but Charmeau remained confident that a 2020 debut launch would happen on time.
Patrick Bonguet, the projects programme chief, said Airbus 6 is maintaining its commitment of reducing today’s typical Ariane-5 cost-per-kilo by some 40 to 50 per cent.
It is a brave statement given that SpaceX and its founder Elon Musk is also predicting rapidly falling prices once Musk’s team perfects its ‘back to Earth’ recovery programming for its Falcon-9 system.