European Space Launch Vehicles safeguard the independent access to space for Europe. The ESA programme to develop and build European launch vehicles began already in 1973. Since then, ESA member states have backed the development of five generations of Ariane launch vehicles, with the sixth currently under development. From the European Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, a family of launch vehicles (Ariane, Vega, and Soyuz) enables the transportation of institutional and commercial satellites into space.New developments in the frame of ESA programmes will further enhance the flexibility and cost-efficiency of space transportation in Europe, leading to more competitive launch services for the entire sector.
Contributions made by Swiss industry
Swiss industrial companies have been involved in the development and construction of European launch vehicles from the very early design stages of Ariane 1. Since the 1980’s several generations of Swiss-made fairings, developed and built since 2009 by RUAG Space, have flown or still fly very reliably on all of the versions of the Ariane launch vehicle as well as on the smaller Vega rocket, and even on US Atlas V rockets. In addition, Swiss companies, including APCO Technologies, Meggitt and others, have actively contributed to the construction of test installations, to the development, exploitation and maintenance of the European Spaceport assets as well as to the equipment used to transport components for launch vehicles and satellites.