Europe’s governments have agreed to fund the continued development of the Ariane 6 launch system.
The European Space Agency has earmarked €350 million for investment on the giant rocket’s production lines, and in particular for the P120 solid-fuel rocket stages. The extra cash was agreed as a portion of the overall €3 billion cost of the Ariane 6 project.
The new rockets are expected to become available to the satellite industry around 2020-2021. The first test flight is expected in 2020.
Daniel Neuenschwander, ESA’s Director for Launchers, said that the commitment was made in anticipation of firm institutional and government missions. The ESA is now expecting firm orders to start flowing from the commercial sector.