SpaceX chosen for two European projects in place of Russian launchers

“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 ministerial council on October 20. The Euclid space telescope and the Hera probe are part of a follow-up mission to Nasa’s DART probe which last month succeeded in altering the trajectory of a satellite in the first test of a future planetary defense system. The launches will take place in 2023 and 2024 respectively.

ESA had entered into preliminary technical discussions with SpaceX about the temporary use of its launchers after the conflict in Ukraine blocked access to Russian Soyuz rockets.

In addition, the ESA announced that a third satellite built by Airbus, the Earth Cloud Aerosol and Radiation Explorer, or EarthCARE, will be launched by the European Vega C in place 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 other missions. Especially since the Ariane 6 program is accumulating delays…

With Reuters (Tim Hepher, French version Dina Kartit, editing by Kate Entringer)

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