Airbus Defence and Space

The future launcher

Airbus Defence and Space and ESA to develop launch vehicle of tomorrow

Airbus Defence and Space has been selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) to undertake initial development studies for a next-generation launcher.

If Europe is to maintain long-term, independent and competitive access to space, Ariane 5 and its derivatives will need the help of a little sibling.

The Next Generation Launcher (NGL) project is part of ESA’s Future Launcher Preparatory Programme, which aims to prepare a proposal combining all technical and organisational aspects of the programme for presentation at ESA’s next ministerial conference.

Ariane 5 ME (Midlife Evolution), for which initial development was launched at the 2008 ESA ministerial conference, with first flight scheduled for 2016, is an essential medium-term solution for meeting the needs of the institutional and commercial heavy-lift launcher market. Afterwards, Europe will need a new launcher, to guarantee continued independent access to space, specifically for the four-tonne to SSO (sun-synchronous orbit) segment. The cost of building and operating such a launcher will need to be kept down to ensure that independent access to space remains affordable for the European taxpayer. This will undoubtedly have an impact on the technical and industrial choices ahead. Finally, the launcher will need to heed ecological demands – in space and on the ground – and these are bound to become more stringent in future.

More information

FutureAriane 5