Arianespace believes it can trim those costs for some of its cargoes thanks to a new rocket coming into service.
The Vega rocket system, now being introduced by Arianespace, might cost just $42 million (€32m), which is a considerable saving on current costs, and deliberately pricing itself to match launches by the Russian Proton system (which is marketed by International Launch Services). Vega, in its basic configuration, can handle smaller-to-midsize satellites, up to about 1500-2000 kgs (depending on launch altitude). A test launch is scheduled for February 9th.
Vega’s prime contractor is Italy’s ELV, and Francesco De Pasquale, its CEO, says they can supply the complete rocket to Arianespace for some €25 million. Arianespace then add about €7 million for their launch activity at the Kourou spaceport. But he stressed that these costs could come down if the launch rate reached 4 rockets a year. The European Space Agency is hoping to target cost reductions and to bring prices down to nearer €21 million.
This target is necessary if Europe is to continue being competitive with new rocket-building competition coming from the Ukraine, India and the USA’s SpaceX/Falcon system.