Having decided to create a new joint venture company to streamline the process of building European launch vehicles, Airbus Defence and Space (Airbus DS) and Safran have chosen their man to lead it. Alain Charmeau, 57, who is currently Head of Operations, Space Systems, Airbus DS, is to become the new venture’s CEO. The new company will be used to build the new Ariane 6 launch vehicle – once the final configuration is decided upon.
The configuration championed by Germany which is the new favourite to be chosen has a core first stage using liquid propellants rather than the originally planned configuration having two solid rocket first and second stages.
The largest version of this new Ariane 6 vehicle might be able to launch a pair of satellites weighing a total of 8,500kg for about US$120 million. This would just about make it competitive with SpaceX’s Falcon 9v 1.1 which can launch single satellites for about half this figure.