Germany the Victor in Launcher Debate


The French put up a good fight, but it looks like Germany has won the battle over Europe's future launch vehicle development: The European Space Agency (ESA) and its industrial contractors at Astrium Space Transportation in Bremen will continue work on an upgrade to the Ariane 5 launcher, known as the Ariane 5 Midlife Evolution (Ariane 5 ME), with plans to fly the more-capable rocket in 2017. Steadfastly supported by Germany, the Ariane 5 ME will afford a 20% increase in payload-carrying capacity over the Ariane 5 ECA of today.

In the meantime, ESA will fund studies of the French-backed Ariane 6, French Minister of Higher Education and Research Genevieve Fioraso told reporters covering ESA's two-day budget ministerial in Naples this week. But a decision on whether or not to build the estimated €4 billion next-generation launcher is not expected before mid-2014.

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A Century of Aviation Week

Aviation Week & Space Technology is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. In a series of blogs, our editors highlight editorial content from the magazine's long and rich history.


Aug 26, 2016

When Aviation Week Was Accused of Treason -- The Back Story Revealed 8

A 1957 revelation that the U.S. was tracking Soviet missile launches from a secret radar in Turkey has its roots in sleuthing of students from Kettering Grammar School in the UK....More
Aug 23, 2016

When Aviation Week Was Accused Of Treason 23

Aviation Week editors routinely get blowback when they write about sensitive topics, and the best example of that may be an October 1957 story that revealed the U.S. had been tracking Russian missile launches from advanced long-range radar units in Turkey....More
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