Report: Europe Is Upping Its Space Game 

Report: Europe's Upping Its Space Game

Elon Musk's private space company, SpaceX, has been coming on in leaps and planetary-sized bounds of late, so much so that it's apparently threatening our friends across the pond. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the EU is about to invest in a whole new generation of low-cost rockets in order to stay competitive.

The European project is basically to build an updated version of the venerable Ariane 5 rocket. The current generation of Ariane uses a liquid-fuel main stage, with two solid-rocket-boosters to give additional lifting power. The new Ariane would be a similar design, with a central liquid-fuel first stage, and two or four SRBs depending on the weight being lifted into orbit. The main benefit of the Ariane 6 is price -- around $US95 million per launch, which could result in price-per-kilo 50 per cent lower than the current.

If the WSJ is correct, and plans move forward, investment will mostly come from France and Germany, with a handful of other European countries chipping in. By the time Ariane 6 rolls around, however, it might already be redundant -- the R&D won't be finished earlier than 2017, by which time SpaceX will quite possibly be flying reusable rockets off autonomous seaborne landing platforms. [Wall Street Journal]

Picture: Ariane 6 proposal by SkywalkerPL/Wikimedia

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    Man I wish Australia had a space program.

      Fat chance, this country is full of idiots who vote for bigger idiots and full of "entrepreneurs" who dream of only of casinos and property development. Not a single Musk or Gates in our millionaires and billionaires clubs.
      Descending scale of idiocy;
      Palmer United
      Xenophon and Leyonhjelm sound sensible occasionaly, might as well put them in charge and imprison the rest for crimes against reason.

    Why not? Don't you know you Aussie have a front seat. SpaceX is a commercial enterprise and Elon Musk is a visionary and business that wants to setup a colony on Mars. The red planet kinda remind me of the outback. What you have to do is make yourself indispensable. Habit and and creating biosphere, mining, robotics, sciences and engineering all these are going to be in demand. Spacex wants to provide the transportation.

    By developing something that will be in demand, you jump to the front seat. Basically don't worry about the rocket, worry about everything else.

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