PARIS — Amid difficulties for the European launch industry, and with Brexit looming on the horizon, European Space Agency executives face a challenging year ahead.
Jan Woerner, ESA’s director general, held his annual press breakfast Jan. 16 in Paris, outlining his vision for 2019, at the end of which, ESA will hold its next ministerial meeting to secure funding for its programs for the next several years. Dubbed Space19+, the meeting is set to take place in Seville, Spain, Nov. 27-28.
This year will see crucial milestones in Europe’s transition from its Ariane 5 and Vega launchers to the next-generation rockets, Ariane 6 and Vega C.
On Jan. 25, launch provider Arianespace will conduct the qualification motor-1test of the P120C solid rocket booster, said Daniel Neuenschwander, ESA’s director of space transportation. With the closing of a critical design review by the end of February, Vega C’s maiden flight will be decided. The same process for Ariane 6 will wrap up by the middle of the year, at which point the maiden flight of Ariane 6 is expected to be announced.
This transition comes at a worrying time for the European launch market. Arianespace, the first commercial launch company and a ...