Arianespace Says Long-Term Viability At Stake

Posted: October 21, 2010 in Uncategorized
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An article from Aviation Week points out how hybrid free market/governmental institutions and non-market interventions can skew things on the ground…and things trying to get to space.

Arianespace is warning members of its supply chain and European governments that they must bear more of the operating costs for Europe’s expanding panoply of launcher systems if the systems are to remain viable in the face of growing competition and a tightening launch market.

Tightening launch market? You could say so with the explosive (generally figuratively, but sometimes literally) emergence of China, India, SpaceX, and soon, a back-in-play Sea Launch.  Also consider the sustained launch services excellence seen in the Russians.

Last week, the company convened the manufacturers of the Ariane 5 and two new systems that are to enter service at its Kourou, French Guiana, launch complex next year—the Soyuz 2 and Vega—to discuss measures that it says must be taken to ensure they stay competitive. Although the event is annual, the publicity for this year’s meeting—combined with earlier calls for a capital increase and greater public price support—underscores the seriousness of Arianespace’s predicament.

Greater public price support? I think that means increased subsidies.

In addition, managers hope by December to convince European Space Agency (ESA) member states to increase public financial support for the three launch systems, in particular by having the members assume launch facility maintenance and upkeep costs (AW&ST Oct. 4, p. 37). “To maintain a level playing field, we will need a minimum of support beyond EGAS,” Le Gall said, referring to the €960-million European Guaranteed Access to Space program initiated in 2004.

Ah, the call for a level playing field.  The space launch “field” is obviously drooping in the Arianespace corner and a stack of taxpayer cash is needed to prop it up.

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