SpaceX Steals Europe’s Thunder: Why Ariane 6 Got Left in the Dust

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European Satellite Operator Chooses SpaceX Over Ariane 6 for Key Satellite Launch

In a significant blow to European space ambitions, Europe’s weather satellite operator has opted to cancel plans to use the Ariane 6 rocket for an upcoming launch, instead choosing to partner with SpaceX, as reported by French newspaper Le Monde.

The decision, coming less than two weeks before Ariane 6’s scheduled maiden flight on July 9 after years of delays, underscores challenges facing European space efforts.

EUMETSAT, the operator, reportedly decided to launch its MTG-S1 weather satellite aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, prompting the cancellation of a long-standing contract with Arianespace.

While specific reasons for choosing SpaceX over the European rocket were not detailed in the report, the move has sparked disappointment among European space officials. Philippe Baptiste, CEO of France’s CNES space agency, expressed concern over the implications of this decision, especially amid calls for bolstering European launcher capabilities.

Ariane 6’s delayed debut adds to Europe’s space woes, compounded by setbacks with the Vega-C launcher and Russia’s withdrawal of Soyuz rockets, leaving Europe reliant on external launch providers.

Before this development, Ariane 6 had secured contracts for 30 missions annually, while SpaceX’s Falcon 9, known for its reusability, is poised for 144 launches this year alone.

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