BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Space Agency’s Director general: It is crucial to rebuild Europe’s Space access after the failed launch of a European Two rockets carrying two Earth The delayed introduction of the observation satellites in 2008 and their use as observation satellites Ariane 6 launcher.
In An interview with The Associated Press On Wednesday, Josef Aschbacher said his “priority is to reinstall access to space, guaranteed access to space for Europe. And That is what I will do.”
Until then, he said, Europe must look at alternative solutions outside the continent — including Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
Aschbacher said the ESA is working at identifying the causes of the failure of the Vega-C rocket launch in French Guiana, with the results of the investigation expected in less than a month.
The launch of Vega C was meant to take two Earth observation satellites made by Airbus, Pleiades Neo 5 and 6, into orbit. The satellites would have been part of a constellation capable of taking images of any point on the globe with a resolution of 30 centimeters (11.8 inches).
“Having three failures in two years is not good,” Aschbacher Referring to the previous Vega misfirings. “And This is where we must really look at how we can change certain practices or quality management processes in order to ensure that when we do get there, it’s a great thing. Vega C is safely back at the launchpad and it is as fast as possible.”
Meanwhile, with Ariane 5 preparing to retire, the delayed launch of Ariane 6 is further denting Europe’s capacity to send satellites into space amid fierce competition from SpaceX and other rocket programs in the U.S. and China.
The maiden flight of the medium-to-heavy Ariane 6 rocket was planned for mid-2020 but following several delays its first launch is not expected before the fourth quarter of this year.
“Of course, top priority is getting Ariane 6 onto the launchpad,” Aschbacher said. “We I still have technical issues to fix and I won’t hide them. They These are serious matters that we must tackle.”
In addition, the Russian space agency has terminated Soyuz launches at the European spaceport in French Guiana, in retaliation for ESA’s decision to implement sanctions imposed by its members on Russia over its war in Ukraine, leaving Europe with even fewer options.
Until proper access to space is regained, Aschbacher said Europe needs to look at alternative solutions outside the continent.
“Could be SpaceX, could also be somebody else,” He stated. “We You may require an interim solution for the next one or maximum two years.”
Asked about Musk’s competition, Aschbacher said “he is putting facts on the table which you have to take into account in how you develop.”
“And in a way, it’s also helping us in our argumentation because you have one clear player who is developing,” he added. “In some domains we have to catch up. … But I think it also energizes and reinforces our engineers and our scientists to make sure that we have good solutions to make progress on this. So overall, I think this really helps the space sector altogether.”
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