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ESA and the European Union aim to ensure that Europe has the launchers to meet institutional and commercial demands, and ensuring that Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana remains a byword for excellence and reliability. With the heavy Ariane 5, the medium Soyuz and the small Vega now exploited from Kourou, Europe benefits from a family of launchers that has the capability and flexibility to cover all European government and most commercial market needs, thus further enhancing socio-economic benefits of access to space in Europe.

The worldwide competition among launch service providers makes it essential to develop a post-Ariane 5 ECA system as early as possible to continue to guarantee Europe’s access to space while, at the same time, reduce costs to more competitive levels. At the ESA Ministerial council in Naples, Italy, November 2012, it was decided to adapt Ariane 5 (Adapted Ariane 5 ME) and design a new launcher (Ariane 6) with the goal to develop as many commonalities as possible between the two launchers.

Credit imagine: ESA/CNES/ARIANESPACE — Optique Photo Video du CSG, 2013

Image credit: ESA/CNES/ARIANESPACE — Optique Photo Video du CSG, 2013

Specific programmes Romania is involved in:

  • The Future Launchers Preparatory Programme (FLPP), Period-3
  • New Guiana Space Centre Resolution (2013-2017)
  • Development Post Ariane 5 ECA
  • IXV Evolution/PRIDE Step 1, Programme for Reusable In-orbit Demonstrator for Europe (PRIDE)
  • Ariane 6 development

The Future Launchers Preparatory Programme (FLPP) began in 2003 and it oversees system studies and research activities to foster new technologies capable of delivering high performance and reliability coupled with reduced operational costs. FLPP is an ESA optional programme where 14 Member States are participating. The programme is structured in a series of partially overlapping periods. Romania is involved in Period 3 (2013-15): preparation and performance of Integrated High-Thrust Engine demonstrator tests and other key technology developments, enabling a final recommendation to be made and start of NGL development, targeting a preliminary design of the selected vehicle concept. Benefits of FLPP include: safeguarding Europe's guaranteed access to space into the long term, decreasing the cost of reaching orbit,responding to institutional and commercial market requirements.

ESA activities aiming to improve European know-how in critical reentry technologies domain began with the Intermediate Experimental Vehicle (IXV). PRIDE was proposed as a follow-up mission. It will focus on system and technology performance verification in all flight conditions (i.e. hypersonic, supersonic, transonic, subsonic). This will be achieved through an end-to-end European orbital mission with landing on a conventional runway.