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ESA offers plan for guaranteed Ariane buys
Posted: Thu, Jun 13, 2002, 6:36 AM ET (1036 GMT)
Ariane 5 launch on Flight 145 (ESA) The European Space Agency has sent a plan to its member governments that would require them to purchase several launch vehicles each year in an effort to support the European launch industry, Space News reported Wednesday. The plan would require the governments to buy at least three Ariane 5 boosters a year starting in 2005, as well as two of the Vega, a new small vehicle under development. The plan would cost 650 million euros (US$610 million) a year, although those costs would be at least partially offset by sales of those boosters to commercial customers or government agencies. The plan is an effort to support Arianespace, which recorded losses of 200 million euros (US$188 million) in 2001 and over 200 million euros in 2000. According to the Space News article Arianespace will continue to lose money for the next two years "even in the best of circumstances" because of the current poor condition of the commercial space industry. The plan is seen as analogous to NASA and Defense Department purchases of Atlas and Delta boosters that help support Lockheed Martin and Boeing.
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