The advances of SpaceX and the Chinese Space Agency (CNSA) have managed to awaken the European Space Agency (ESA), which for years has distanced itself from the space race and direct competition between the United States and Russia. Thierry Breton, European Commissioner, has announced new short-term space projects.
Europeans have long focused on enhancing their work with projects such as Galileo, Europe’s Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), and the Ariane rockets. However, now they see it necessary catch up on innovations like the ones SpaceX has achieved.
“SpaceX has redefined the standards for shuttles, making Ariane 6 a necessary step, but not the end goal: we need to start thinking about Ariane 7 now“Breton said during an agency presentation. For the first time, Europe gives the green light to the budget for develop the launch of rockets, including reusable ones.
In this sense, Ariane has a reusable rocket prototype whom they have baptized as Themis, where the Prometheus engine would be used to bring the power to life during launch. In addition, they also have the rocket under development Callisto. But this is not all the challenges that ESA is going to embark on in the coming years.
From Europe they have also looked at the bright SpaceX satellites, the Starlink constellation, with which it intends to offer the internet to everyone. Europe will work to offer high-speed satellite connections to European citizens.
The new generation Galileo would be, in Breton’s words, the most modern satellites in the world. Smarter satellites that can communicate with each other and help with a space traffic management system to avoid collisions up there. This plan has already been presented for the year 2027, but the opportunity to compete with SpaceX requires speeding up the project and have set their release date for 2024.
Breton awaits the creation of a European Space Fund in which a billion euros are earmarked for these projects. In addition, it wants to give free access to satellites and launchers to new companies and thus promoting space innovation in Europe.