It seems that the dream of SpaceX in Europe has finally come to fruition.

SpaceX has been determined to be a crazy bet ridiculed by players in this field, and is a serious player in the field who can carry astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) and send satellite constellations. We have succeeded in establishing our position as a space station in a few years. space. Its appearance in the space scene shows how far it has evolved and become accessible at low cost due to the miniaturization of parts and technological advances. These over-publicized missions also highlighted the delays France and Europe have taken in this area. The arrival of these new players has caused awakenings in some European countries, but it is not the right time to fully cooperate on these subjects. And that’s a good thing.

catch up

“The rise of SpaceX [et des autres acteurs comme Rocket Lab, Astra, Firefly, etc.] In fact, France and Europe have begun to accelerate launcher projects. “ Stanislas Maximin, CEO and co-founder of Venture Orbital Systems, said: “” Increment [développement de Prometheus, puis de Callisto, puis de Themis] Instead of a radical change “..

“” MeThe United States began funding this type of project in 2015, but we are six years behind. Launch François Chopard, Co-founder and CEO of Starburst. But we are seeing recognition of the potential of SpaceTech in France. We’ve been discussing DeepTech and SpaceTech lately and have the ambition to stop betting everything on large groups » , He admits.Stanislas maximin emphasizes and creates in-depth observations “A year ago, a great deal of support for the private microlauncher initiative in Germany gave rise to greater awareness, and a recent announcement in France of a request for support.”..

In less than a year, the government has announced significant funding for SpaceTech in France. In mid-September 2021, a € 1.5 billion envelope from France’s 2030 plan was devoted to the space sector, focusing on reusable launchers and satellite constellations. At the European Space Summit a few weeks ago, it was Bruno Le Mer, Minister of Economic and Fiscal Recovery, who advocated the desire to create 250 satellite constellations from here at the age of two.

François Chopard’s biggest challenge is creation “” ‘a A launcher that is sturdy and affordable enough to offer as low a cost of access to space as the one proposed by the Americans. “.. Prior to that, it wasn’t worth leveraging other technologies, even if they needed to continue development in parallel.

Lack of funds and other obstacles

Asked about why France and Europe were delayed in space, François Chopard did not hesitate for a moment to point out the lack of funds. “” The funds available primarily fund Ariane 6 and are already facing difficulties. “

Observations shared by Stanislas maximin. “” For public funding for innovation (Public investment bank) Easy to use in France early in the project. As soon as you need to raise tens of millions of euros, investment funding and funding tools are declining. »» And this is not the only limitation. “” MeThe management structure is the brake. There is no one-stop shop for funding or one-stop shop for technology expertise support. It is case by case. »»

Even if Charles Begbeder announced the launch of the geodesic in January 2022, followed by the European initiative Cassini for some time, there is still a shortage of funding in this area. In addition to the structure of the National Space Research Center (Cnes), there are two structures, Bpifrance and Karista, which created Cosmi Capital in October 2021.

Nevertheless, Francois Chopard wants to be optimistic in this regard. “” France’s 2030 plan spends € 1.5 billion on space, which is large and negligible. “ , He admits. Before specifying: “” Two-thirds are devoted to start-ups, especially SpaceTech, amounting to € 150 million annually. »» It’s an interesting amount for Starburst CEOs, not only for R & D and equity investment,When signing a contract.I know that developing a launcher solution costs about the cost “” 100 million euros in 5 years from the start to the first flight. “

Public order and morals

In addition to the huge budget of the American space agency compared to the budgets of France and Europe, the United States has another asset. It’s public procurement. “” Public procurement and development assistance is a very powerful tool to support the emergence of new technologies and new players. It is a tool for increasing competitiveness and a tool that enables the leverage effect of private investment. “ I believe in Stanislas Maximin.

gold, “Europe has a slightly different view of public procurement than Americans. In the United States, the major financial providers of space are NASA and the US Space Force, with a budget of $ 60 billion. , Observe François Chopard.Here, private contributions to the sector are only one-third of the funding and cannot be ignored. “” Don’t change the game “..

“The states of the United States command many companies, even small ones. NASA has actually integrated this power of public order and morals to accelerate certain champions.” , Clément Galic, CEO of Unseenlabs confirms.Who thinks it “” The role of the state is also to give us the ability to strengthen public procurement. We also need to simplify the public procurement process to make it available to SMEs. »»

Europe is aware of this. “” ESA [Agence spatiale européenne, N.D.L.R.] We are already beginning to support European solutions via ESA Bic. ” François Chopard explains. There is also a need for projects that are open to start-ups. “” A Swiss startup dealing with debris management has won a € 90 million contract. »» And this is not trivial. “We look forward to ESA signing a contract with a European space startup to justify its business model and enable it to raise money. It’s the beginning and CNES must follow the same path. ” Continues as CEO of Starburst. Cnes is already in this process.

Launcher before 2025?

“Priority [pour la France, N.D.L.R.] Is to ensure autonomous European access. [via Ariane 6 notamment] And above all, bet on the competition between players to bring out the world champion by supporting the initiative of Micro Launcher to bet in the future.It is also necessary to provide large funding for the linked infrastructure (Launch pad, ground infrastructure, test area, etc.) , Analyze the co-founders of Venture Orbital Systems. Opinions shared by Francois Chopard. “” France needs to regain the leadership it has lost in Micro Launcher and small satellites. Otherwise, Ariane 7 will be manufactured by a German company. »»

France“” Great intelligence by engineers who know how to make very complex rocket engines if “Germany has no skills”. “We need to keep them, it’s true peculiarity”, François Chopard insists. Assets associated with ecosystem structuring. “” Cnes management is committed to building relationships with young start-ups. It’s very positive. “ Note, Unseenlabs. “Startups not only work with each other, but also with major contractors. Start-ups are suppliers and between start-ups and large groups to provide interaction with manufacturers. There is no friction. »»

Several microlauncher projects have already begun, including projects from Maïa (Arianegroup) and Venture Orbital Systems. “” Zephyr’s initial flight configuration will be fixed and the Navier Mk1 rocket engine will be printed and ready to be tested during the summer. However, test area partners can meet the announced deadline. (Vernon area).. Most of the structural and electronic components have been developed and will be tested over the next 18 months. We are still aiming for the end of 2024 for the first orbital test. Stanislas Maximin explains.

He promises: “” Zephyr will be the cheapest private launcher to privatize in the world. Combined with superior responsiveness and flexibility, and a complete factory-to-track service solution, our solutions enable customers to accelerate access to track and thus accelerate their business models while saving budget. increase. »» Despite lack of funds and still weak public order and morals, Francois Chopard believes in French launchers more than 100 kilometers away by 2025.

Europe, between competition and cooperation

In mid-February 2022, Emmanuel Macron demanded sovereign Europe in space, but so far the environment has shown fairly positive competition. “” This subdivided Europe considerably, with the Italians leaving the Vega Launcher and the Germans trying to approach the Arian group. ” , Create François Chopard as the first observation. Then Isar Aerospace (and its Spectrum project) in Germany and PLD (M) in Spain.iura 1 and 5) or Venture Orbital system (Zephyr).

“” VS‘Is good. It is no longer the model of the 1970s that launched major programs such as Concorde, Arian and the TGV. »» According to François Choppard “” aAn extended model in which n 15 projects are developed in parallel and each seeks to raise its own funds in some way. Each has its own technological singularity. »» We need to support the richness of this abundance. “In order for one to spawn and they join each other, you need to invest in five or six startups. »»

Today, it is the war in Ukraine that unites the European Union. “” MeThe EU is beginning to realize the lack of autonomy and the need to disconnect from Russia, a major space power. François Choppard continues.. Europe must work together to support the development, financing and purchase of Micro Launcher launch services. However, we must always encourage healthy competition and fair play between players. Promoting a particular project funded by all ESA contributors cannot be competitive, profitable, fast or cheap to develop. We need to get into the logic of competition. “ Stanislas Maximin is also assumed.

For François Chopard, European scale needs to be considered in order to carry out major projects. “” MeHowever, it is necessary to form an alliance with other countries for the target manned flight. Using Ariane 6 is expensive, and sending astronauts into space is expensive. To make Ariane 6 profitable, you can add capsules to the fairing to connect the space station and make Ariane 6 profitable. “

New interest in the space sector, on a scale both in France and Europe, should benefit SpaceTech regardless of the provision of microlaunchers, microsatellite, or services (global warming mapping, farmland management, etc.). am. This sector is still in its infancy and is waiting for takeoff.

Keep reading the other articles in our papers:

    1. France’s Space Tech, between data utilization and infrastructure
    2. 11 Structures You Should Know When Starting a Startup with SpaceTech