“Europe doesn’t start at zero”, for the CEO of ArianeGroup

Europe wants to catch up with the Americans in terms of reusable rocket launchers. Bruno Le Maire detailed France’s space strategy on Monday, with the arrival of a launcher called Maïa signed by ArianeGroup by 2026. It’s a “realistic timetable”, its CEO, André-Hubert Roussel assured.

“Ariane 6 is the front page of the future European launcher”, explains CEO of ArianeGroup © AFP / Jody Amiet

He will be baptized by Maïa. This rocket produced by European company ArianeGroup aims to “bring back some competition in the galaxy world“, as explained by the Minister of Economy, Bruno Le Maire, on Monday. part of their rockets to get them back into space. This is largely a change of course for Europe in space, which until now has bet on Ariane 6, the space heavyweight, whose first launch is planned for the first half of 2022. Maïa should be ready to fly in 2026, but the project “don’t start with zero“, explained to France Inter the CEO of ArianeGroup, André-Hubert Roussel. It remains to build the second stage, then assemble the whole thing. The target market is that of the constellations, these groups of hundreds, even thousands of satellites aimed at full coverage of the Earth, either in imagery or in telecommunications.

FRANCE INTER: Bruno Le Maire has announced a future reusable mini-launcher in Europe to counter Space X. Very concrete, what exactly are we talking about?

André-Hubert Roussel: “The Minister has already confirmed the operation of the Ariane 6 for the coming years. The Ariane 6 will be the first page of future European launchers. With this mini-launcher, we want to create it the first member of a family of reusable and eco-responsible European launchers that will serve the needs of Europe’s sovereign access to space in the coming decades.So why start with a mini-launcher? Because it is a dedicated reusable launcher for launching micro and mini-satellites Obviously, Ariane 6 was made for large satellites, also for space exploration, to go to the Moon, but also to launch large constellations that may consist of mini-satellites, but launch dozens at once. Basically a micro-satellite, it is a satellite up to about 200 kilos.And a mini-satellite up to 500 kilos.We are talking about this kind of shipping into space. “

Does Europe start at the beginning?

“Europe is not starting from scratch. Again, this is the first chapter in the renewal of our space transport fleet and autonomous access to space with the Ariane 6. At the same time, we have also started building two absolutely essential technological bricks The first is a new machine, the machine called the Prometheus, the first example of which will be tested next year, at the very beginning of the year in Vernon.And then also, the Themis reusable stage demonstrator, which will make it possible to return to Earth so that it can be used again for a subsequent launch.These two developments are currently underway and therefore we will be using them.These will be the two essential bricks for the whole family, starting with this little launcher . “

The minister spoke about the “delay” in terms of reusable launchers. Can we reach Space X?

“I don’t think we missed this turn. We started in 2012, so ten years ago. We started with a kind of launcher that didn’t describe this family of reusable European launchers. Fortunately, with the launch of the Ariane 6 program, with the creation of the Ariane Group, Europe has already done the right thing, with the strengthening of liquid propulsion in the Ariane 6. Liquid propulsion is the basis of reuse.So, we have already started on this path from 2014 -2016 to prepare things and now, we are accelerating.We can, thanks to this technology that we have developed for almost six years, to be placed on the launcher board, fly.This launcher will fly according to the wishes of the President of the French Republic , at the latest 2026. This is a realistic timetable.One day, when we will have, thanks to these technologies that will develop through this mini-launcher, we will be able to evolve A riane 6, but might also make a new generation of Ariane for a cohesive future family of European launchers.

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