Concerned about SpaceX, France to accelerate reusable rocket plans

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire speaks during a visit to the aerospace company ArianeGroup in Vernon, northern France, on December 6, 2021.

Enlarge / French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire speaks during a visit to the aerospace company ArianeGroup in Vernon, northern France, on December 6, 2021. (credit: ERIC PIERMONT/AFP via Getty Images)

On Monday French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire announced a plan for Europe to compete more effectively with SpaceX by developing a reusable rocket on a more rapid timeline.

“For the first time Europe … will have access to a reusable launcher,” Le Maire said, according to Reuters. “In other words, we will have our SpaceX, we will have our Falcon 9. We will make up for a bad strategic choice made 10 years ago.”

The new plan calls for the large, France-based rocket firm ArianeGroup to develop a new small-lift rocket called Maïa by the year 2026. This is four years ahead of a timeline previously set by the European Space Agency for the development of a significantly larger, reusable rocket.

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