(ORDO NEWS) — The European Space Agency announced on Thursday that it will use SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets to launch two science missions due to delays in launching its own Ariane 6 rocket and canceling flights on Russian Soyuz rockets.
The ESA Space Telescope “Euclid” will go into space on the Falcon 9 rocket of the American company SpaceX billionaire Elon Musk.
The ESA Hera mission, which will explore the asteroid Didim, will also be launched on a Falcon 9 in late 2024, said ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher.
The European-Japanese EarthCARE satellite, which was planned to be launched into space on a Soyuz rocket, will be launched in early 2024 on ESA’s Vega-C launcher, Aschbacher said.
The European-Russian mission ExoMars, which was planned to be launched last month on Soyuz, has been postponed. According to David Parker, ESA’s director of human and robot research, a decision on the launch date, currently planned for 2028, will be made in November.
“It’s been exactly a month since we were supposed to attend the launch scheduled for September 20,” he said at a press conference on Thursday. “But now we will have to wait – if the ministers wish to proceed with the project – until a launch in 2028 with a landing in 2030.”
The announcement came a day after ESA revealed that the first flight of the Ariane 6 had again been delayed until the last quarter of next year.
The first flight of the Ariane 6 was originally scheduled back in 2020, but was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic as well as developmental difficulties.
Ariane 6 is expected to compete with SpaceX rockets once it enters service, especially in launching small satellites.
In recent days, progress has been made on the development of the Ariane 6, including the testing of a new rocket upper stage.
A test model of the rocket was also recently successfully assembled at the launch site of the European Kourou spaceport in French Guiana.
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