More than 50 satellites in a single rocket… Europe wants to compete with the United States in the “new space”

What if satellites “carpool” to make launches cheaper? This is what Arianespace has just successfully inaugurated.

On September 2, an Arianespace Vega rocket, launched from the Guyanese space center, successfully put no less than 53 satellites into orbit at once, on behalf of 21 customers. This is the first European mission of “rideshare” (shared launch).

With this technological first, called SSMS (“Small Spacecraft Mission Services”), Europe hopes to take its place in the “new space”, the new international economic space competition.

franceinfo: what is the point of this satellite “carpooling”?

Marino Fragnito, head of BU Vega at Arianespace: The interest is to be able to offer launches at affordable prices, in particular to startups, universities or research centers, which could not afford to access the space until now.

What will these little satellites be used for?

Most are technology demonstrators. Companies, even the largest, often use small satellites to test their technologies, before developing a constellation or a larger satellite for their uses. This concerns telecoms, the Internet of Things or Earth observations.

Is Europe competitive in the face of American initiatives in the “new space” ?

Absolutely. The market is increasingly competitive. The Americans are now offering very aggressive prices. In Europe, we are following this decrease in prices but we are trying to continue to offer excellent service. The Vega launcher is very versatile. On this flight, we successfully deployed the satellites to three different orbital levels. The stake is economic and strategic for Europe.

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