Airbus, Safran to compete with SpaceX

June 17, 2014 - 1:22:56 pm
Didier Evrard (centre), Airbus A350 programme chief, with Fabrice Bregier (left), Airbus President and CEO, and Tom Enders, CEO of Airbus Group, as they visit the final assembly line of Airbus A350 at Airbus headquarters in Toulouse, France, yesterday.

PARIS: Aerospace giant Airbus Group and French engine maker Safran announced a joint venture yesterday on space launchers, as Europe looks to compete with rising US rival SpaceX.

The two companies said in a statement they would team up on production of Ariane rockets for Arianespace, which is facing intense competition from low-cost SpaceX in sending up communications satellites.

The companies announced the plan after talks in Paris with President Francois Hollande, who hailed the deal as “a major step toward the consolidation of the European space programme.” The companies said the deal was aimed at “further strengthening their relationship to propose a new family of competitive, versatile and efficient space launchers, to serve both commercial and institutional needs.”

It said the 50-50 joint venture would bring together “expertise in the launcher systems from Airbus Group as well as propulsion systems from Safran.” “It’s all about enhancing the competitiveness of our space launcher business going forward,” Airbus Group CEO Tom Enders said in the statement. “The Ariane programme has been hugely successful during the last 30 years, but in order to remain relevant and competitive for the future we need a much more efficient industrial structure.” AFP