The European Space Agency is looking for alternative launch systems after breaking away from Russia’s Roscosmos
The European Space Agency (ESA) is considering Elon Musk’s SpaceX as an option to fill the launch gap created by Europe’s break away from Russia’s Roscosmos, according to ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher.
Aschbacher told Reuters that preliminary technical discussions had been initiated by the ESA with the company. This could allow the ESA to temporarily supply its launchers. The agency lost access to Russia’s Soyuz rockets after sanctioning Moscow over its ongoing military operation in Ukraine.
Space X is a major contender for the space void, alongside India and Japan. However, the final decision will depend on the unresolved timetable for Europe’s delayed Ariane 6 rocket, Reuters reports.
“I would say there are two-and-a-half options that we’re discussing. SpaceX is one option, and that’s clear. Another one is possibly Japan,”Aschbacher stated to the outlet that Tokyo was still waiting for its inaugural flight on the next-generation rocket.
Aschbacher indicated that SpaceX was one of the most operational contenders. “back-up launches”ESA will consider the proposal, but it also noted that negotiations are still in their exploratory phase due to many technical details.
He said that the experience of switching to a brand new rocket was different. “jumping on a bus,”It is important that the interface between the satellite and the launcher be compatible, as it can cause vibrations to compromise the payload.
Until now, the ESA has depended on the Italian Vega for small payloads, Russia’s Soyuz for medium ones, and the Ariane 5 for heavy missions. The agency launched the new-generation Vega C last month. However, its Ariane 6 rocket which will replace Soyuz and the Ariane 5, has been delayed to next year. This could lead to a gap in launch schedules.
Aschbacher said Moscow’s decision to pull its staff from the European spaceport in French Guiana, indefinitely postponing all ESA missions involving the Soyuz spacecraft, served as a “wake-up call”Europe was “too dependent on Russia.” He added that Europe’s decade-long cooperation strategy with Russia in gas and other areas including space was “no longer working.”
Meanwhile, companies that have severed ties with Moscow over the conflict in Ukraine have been increasingly looking to SpaceX’s Falcon 9 to conduct launches. Satellite internet firm OneWeb, a competitor of SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet venture, booked at least one Falcon 9 launch in March, while Northrop Grumman has booked three Falcon 9 missions to ferry NASA cargo to the International Space Station.
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