Science

Space: Paris presents its plan to compete with SpaceX

“Europe missed the switch to the reusable launcher, we didn’t think so. We have lagged behind our US partners, in particular SpaceX … we must catch up, “said Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire on Monday during a trip to Normandy at the ArianeGroup site, where engines are tested. of European rockets. .

To catch up with the delay of industry giants such as SpaceX, French authorities are betting on the Maia Space project, which should lead to the launch of a new reusable launcher, which “should be operational by 2026.”

“It is a beautiful day for the French space adventure. ArianeGroup is going to design its own reusable mini-launcher in Vernon ”, he welcomed the Minister of Economy on Monday, hoping that this way“ Europe will compensate for a bad strategic choice made 10 years ago ”.

Compete with SpaceX launchers

And if the employees at the ArianeGroup Normandy site were so concerned about falling victim to a program to eliminate 600 jobs, desired by the group’s management in France and Germany, they can rest easy. “Today there are just over 800 jobs at the Vernon site, and by 2025 there will be about 1,000,” said the minister during his visit.

With this new reusable module, whose principle is to propel space capsules or satellites into orbit, Paris hopes to be able to return to the space race, while in fact it is SpaceX and its partially reusable Falcon 9 launcher. Thomas Pesquet will arrive and return from the international space base a few weeks ago.

As a reminder, ArianeGroup is a joint venture between Safran and Airbus. The company is currently in the process of preparing future Ariane 6 heavy launchers, the inaugural qualifying firing of which is scheduled for the second half of 2021.

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