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LAUNCH PAD
France, Germany compromise on Ariane launcher: minister
by Staff Writers
Naples, Italy (AFP) Nov 21, 2012


France and Germany have overcome differences on building a successor to the Ariane 5 rocket, French Science Minister Genevieve Fioraso said at a European space meeting here Wednesday.

A German-backed plan for an Ariane 5 ME will go ahead, with a first flight scheduled for 2017, and as much of its technology as possible will be used in a future Ariane 6, a launcher promoted by France, whose maiden mission would be in 2021-2022, she said.

"We have established a joint document with our German partners, which naturally is extended to our other partners in Ariane," she told journalists at a budget meeting of the European Space Agency (ESA).

The two-day talks, which began on Tuesday, had been overshadowed by discord over a replacement for the ageing but reliable Ariane 5.

The new rocket should provide more flexible launch options for the swiftly-changing satellite market and wean itself off the 120 million euros ($152 million) a year that the Ariane 5 needs from ESA's budget each year.

France had been pushing for a smaller, sleeker Ariane 6, which would require investment of about four billion euros ($6.45 billion).

But industrialists feared this timescale was way too long and would give the advantage to nimble rivals in commercial satellite launches.

They preferred a German-backed option, an Ariane 5 ME (for "Midlife Evolution"), which would be ready by 2017 at a putative cost of two billion euros ($2.5 billion).

ESA ministers will meet again in 2014 to assess progress, Fioraso said.

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LAUNCH PAD
France, Germany seek Ariane compromise at ESA space meet
Naples, Italy (AFP) Nov 20, 2012
The 20 countries in the European Space Agency made progress towards a deal on budget and a successor to the Ariane 5 rocket at talks on space strategy here Tuesday, delegates said. Initiating a two-day meeting against a backdrop of financial constraints, many countries backed proposals to keep spending unchanged over the next few years, British Science Minister David Willetts said. And m ... read more


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