Astrium, an EADS subsidiary company that provides civil and military space systems and services, has been chosen by the European Space Agency (ESA) to handle the development of Ariane 6 and Ariane 5 ME launches. The new contract, worth €108 million ($146 million), follow on from the decisions made during ESA’s Ministerial Council meeting in Naples November of last year.
As Ariane 5’s main contractor since 2003, Astrium will make the initial definition and feasibility studies for the future Ariane 6 European launcher. The goal of the study phase, which is expected to run for six months, is to identify the concept and architecture for Ariane 6. The phase will also set out the new launcher’s main specifications before its industrial development.
Now, Astrium should examine the different possible configurations for the space vehicle and come up with the best solutions to meet ESA’s technical, scheduling and budgetary objectives.
Moreover, the company will work on the development of next-generation Ariane 5 -- the Ariane 5 ME (Midlife Evolution). WIth this new update, it is expected to boost the launch capability by 20 percent compared to the existing launcher -- all without raising the price. ESA expects the Ariane 5 ME to be ready for launch by 2017.
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