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Arianespace “fully reusable by 2030”

January 25, 2022

ArianeGroup Chief Executive André-Hubert Roussel has said the Ariane family of rocket launchers would be fully reusable starting by the end of this decade.

His comments follow on from French Economics Minister Bruno Le Maire who has been highly critical of the Arianespace’s current use of non-reusable rockets, including the giant Ariane 5 and smaller Vega and Soyuz vehicles. They cannot compete financially with the (mostly) reusable Falcon 9 rockets from SpaceX.

Le Maire, speaking before Christmas, said that Europe made a “strategic error” in not developing reusable rockets and is now catching up.

Even Ariane 6, the replacement for Ariane 5, is only partly reusable. Ariane 6 is expected to make a debut flight later this year and be available for commercial and scientific missions in 2023.

But critics point to the fact that Ariane 6 depends on more than 600 smaller companies to supply components. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 is (mostly) built by one business with production line efficiencies and commensurate cost savings.

ArianeGroup have in mind a new development, the Maia rocket, which would be fully reusable but that needs further investment funding. ArianeGrup say this rocket could be ready for work around 2026.

Of course, neither ArianeGroup nor SpaceX are alone in the rocket launching business. There’s plenty of highly competitive rivals on the scene, from China, India, Japan and new ventures from the likes of Sir Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos.

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