The Court's report, which has just been published, is a small bomb for the European space industry. In this document, the Court notes that in order to cope with European international and public competitors, Europeans need to "align resources with their ambition and unite their efforts". It considers that "the states alone no longer have sufficient budgetary resources to face this global strategic competition" created by SpaceX, the company founded by Elon Musk in 2002.
Lacking the satellite launch market for two decades, the United States has made a strong return by private groups. "A huge budgetary effort, combined with private initiative, led to the rise of SpaceX, with which Arianespace captured the position of world leader in 2017," warns the Court, recalling that "sIn the first half of 2018 alone, SpaceX reached 12 shots with its Falcon 9 launcher, more than what Arianespace achieved in one year. "
Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos on the lookout
The competition is no longer limited to SpaceX. "The other great space powers have long experienced the strategic interest of sovereign access to space and developed their launchers ", notes the report while it mentions Russia, Japan, China, India but also Blue Origin, the company founded by Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, who announced the development of a new launcher for 2020.
Faced with these opponents and for "guarantee European sovereign access to space ",The future Ariane 6 launcher will have to evolve quickly in order to remain competitive. especially because Access to space meets security and defense issues, industrial and economic, but also social and influences and influences the policies that now attract the Gafa (acronym for the American giants of technology). Therefor, "Europeans have no choice but to align their resources with their ambition and unite their efforts while states alone no longer have the budgetary resources to meet this global strategic competition," says the Court.
The challenge of reusable launchers
In its report, it recalls that the conditions set by NASA in 1974 for the launch of French and German communication satellites, "intended to ban all commercial exploitation", convinced Europeans that their own launcher ". Since then Arianespace have become the world leader in the commercial market for more than two decades, starting from the reliability of its launchers and a competitive offer.
To maintain this rank, the Ariane 6 launcher, which will be operational in 2020, must "evolve rapidly to remain competitive", thanks in particular to its reusability, the Court continues. "Even if the ambitious development schedule of Ariane 6 is respected, there is a significant risk that the launcher will not be competitive against SpaceX, which continues to grow," she says, emphasizing that Arianespace does not benefit from public order "similar to that of SpaceX ".
The United States offers their launchers a captive market that is supported by their public order. In Europe this market is more modest on the one hand, but it is also open to non-European suppliers to respect the competition. A rule that neither the Americans nor the Chinese nor the Indians follow.