France, Germany compromise on Ariane launcher: minister

November 21, 2012
An Ariane-5 rocket blasts off in August, from the European space centre of Kourou, French Guiana. France and Germany have overcome differences on building a successor to the Ariane 5 rocket, says French Science Minister Genevieve Fioraso

France and Germany have overcome differences on building a successor to the Ariane 5 rocket, French Science Minister Genevieve Fioraso said at a European space meeting here Wednesday.

A German-backed plan for an Ariane 5 ME will go ahead, with a first flight scheduled for 2017, and as much of its technology as possible will be used in a future Ariane 6, a launcher promoted by France, whose maiden mission would be in 2021-2022, she said.

"We have established a joint document with our German partners, which naturally is extended to our other partners in Ariane," she told journalists at a budget meeting of the (ESA).

The two-day talks, which began on Tuesday, had been overshadowed by discord over a replacement for the ageing but reliable Ariane 5.

The should provide more flexible launch options for the swiftly-changing satellite market and wean itself off the 120 million euros ($152 million) a year that the Ariane 5 needs from ESA's budget each year.

France had been pushing for a smaller, sleeker Ariane 6, which would require investment of about four billion euros ($6.45 billion).

But industrialists feared this timescale was way too long and would give the advantage to nimble in launches.

They preferred a German-backed option, an Ariane 5 ME (for "Midlife Evolution"), which would be ready by 2017 at a putative cost of two billion euros ($2.5 billion).

ESA ministers will meet again in 2014 to assess progress, Fioraso said.

Explore further: France, Germany seek Ariane compromise at ESA space meet

Related Stories

Europe's Vega rocket launch set for early February

January 9, 2012

The maiden voyage of Europe's Vega rocket, designed to launch small payloads of about 1.5 tonnes into low-Earth orbit, is set for February 9, the head of the European Space Agency said Monday.

ESA places two satellites into orbit

August 15, 2007

The European Space Agency successfully launched an Ariane rocket from Europe's spaceport in French Guiana on a mission to place two satellites into orbit.

Recommended for you

Three 'super-Earths' orbiting a cool dwarf star discovered

January 23, 2018

Using NASA's prolonged Kepler mission, known as K2, astronomers have found three new "super-Earth" exoplanets. The newly detected alien worlds orbit the cool dwarf star designated LP415-17. The finding is reported January ...

Scientist proposes new definition of a planet

January 23, 2018

Pluto hogs the spotlight in the continuing scientific debate over what is and what is not a planet, but a less conspicuous argument rages on about the planetary status of massive objects outside our solar system. The dispute ...

Dust storms linked to gas escape from Martian atmosphere

January 23, 2018

Some Mars experts are eager and optimistic for a dust storm this year to grow so grand it darkens skies around the entire Red Planet. This type of phenomenon in the environment of modern Mars could be examined as never before ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.