Airbus, Safran Take First Step In Consolidating
As European governments approach a self-imposed deadline in December to decide a strategy on launchers, Europe’s two biggest aerospace companies have won French government endorsement for combining their rocket divisions—which could lead to a complete redesign of the successor to the Ariane 5.
The reorganization could help win much-needed German backing for a new generation of launch vehicles while appealing to the performance demands of an increasingly competitive commercial market. But the proposed merger of the space units of Airbus Group and Safran SA could also mean scrapping 18 months of work by the European Space Agency (ESA) and French space agency CNES on the Ariane 5 rocket’s proposed successor, known as the Ariane 6.
In a rare move by a French head of state, President Francois Hollande publicly sanctioned the proposed merger June 16, marking what could be the first step in the retooling of Europe’s sclerotic launch industry.