SpaceX selected for two European projects instead of Russian launchers
by Tim Hepher
PARIS (Reuters) – Europe will launch two rockets using launchers from SpaceX, the company founded by Elon Musk, after the conflict in Ukraine blocked access to Russian Soyuz launchers, the European Space Agency (ESA) confirmed on Thursday.
Launches include the Euclid space telescope and the Hera probe for a follow-up mission to NASA’s DART probe, which last month successfully altered a satellite’s trajectory in the first test of a future planetary defense system.
“Member States have decided to launch Euclid and Hera on Falcon 9,” ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher told reporters after a meeting of the agency’s Council of Ministers.
The market launches will take place in 2023 and 2024 respectively.
ESA had started preliminary technical talks with SpaceX about the temporary deployment of its launch vehicles after the conflict in Ukraine blocked access to Russian Soyuz rockets.
In addition, ESA announced that a third Airbus-built satellite, the Earth Cloud Aerosol and Radiation Explorer or EarthCARE, will be launched from Europe’s Vega C instead of Soyuz.
It will be launched in early 2024 to fill a gap in scientific modeling of climate change.
ESA is still looking for alternatives for two more missions.
(Reporting by Tim Hepher, French version by Dina Kartit, edited by Kate Entringer)
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