ESA Tasks German Firms with Challenging Space X

March 2021

The future of the space economy, often called New Space, will be as much about getting leaner and more economical as making things larger and more powerful. With this in mind, the European Space Agency ESA has commissioned a study from Bremen company EHB and its subsidiary Rocket Factory Augsburg to predict the future demand for space transportation systems as of 2030.

“These system concept studies will include services that prioritize the future needs of Europe’s space programs but also allow us to address global market needs,” said Daniel Neuenschwander, ESA Director of Space Transportation, in a statement.

“The study is about what course Europe needs to set and when, in order to be future-proof in the commercialization of European spaceflight,” added Marco Fuchs, CEO of OHB. “The task now is to investigate the different space transportation systems and solutions which private initiatives can propose to make Europe a globally sought-after partner for the future of space transportation as well.”

Currently, Europe’s primary launcher is the Ariane 5. It’s scheduled to be replaced in two years’ time. But private companies may be able to provide launch services more economically.

European space experts are keeping close tabs on developments at Tesla founder Elon Musks’s Space X project. Rocket Factory Augsburg is already developing a rocket that can carry payloads at cost of EUR three million per start – less than what SpaceX charges.

In any case, the market for launching satellites is dramatically expanding. As market analyst Euroconsult points out, 1000 new satellites could soon be put up into space annually – the same as the total number orbiting the earth only seven years ago.