ESA extra funding for Arianespace
November 7, 2023
By Chris Forrester
Government members of the European Space Agency (ESA) have agreed to fund an extra €340 million per year to Arianespace for its planned Ariane 6 rocket currently in development.
The cash is needed to pay for the non-activity of Arianespace because its new rocket is extremely late. An inaugural test flight for Ariane 6 is not planned until late in 2024. Ariane 6 is not expected to have a full year of flights until 2026.
Not helping Arianespace’s revenue is the non-availability of the medium-lift Vega-C rocket which has suffered technical problems and is also unlikely to make any cash for Arianespace in 2024.
Moreover, Arianespace is going to lose its exclusive use of the Italian-made Vega rockets. ESA has agreed that an Italian business (Avio SpA) can now commercialise the Vega rockets other than those already contracted to Arianespace.
The extra €340 million annually will be paid until 2029. Additionally ESA has guaranteed to order at least four Ariane 6 missions per year.