It seems a statement of the obvious but Europe’s Ariane rocket launch company is struggling to compete with Elon Musk’s SpaceX. SpaceX is an extremely competitive alternate to Ariane (and even Russia’s Proton system).
President Macron of France, at a public meeting and reported in depth by trade news-site Space Intel Report, admitted that that Europe’s space industry had been “destabilised” by the American operator, which he accused of being helped by the US government’s help and which seemed willing to pay what he alleged were higher prices than prevailing market rates.
Asked whether Europe’s space sector is too slow moving to compete with SpaceX. “Let us be clear,” he stated. “SpaceX has the appearance of a start-up, but it is a US company financed mainly by the US taxpayer. The SpaceX economic model is to work on the commercial market with very low prices because of its other projects, from the US government agencies, for which it is overpaid.”
While SpaceX might argue with that assumption, it is a fact that for some government missions (including those for NASA) it is receiving what could be described as premium payments.
Macron said that this was a bias in the market. “We are at a critical moment in the space adventure and for the moment we are a little destabilised. Europe spent too much time hesitating about Ariane 6 [the advanced – and reusable – rocket system from Arianespace]. We are paying the price for this today.”