The CEO of France-based launch company Arianespace says Europe will have to wait until the 2030s for a reusable rocket.
Stéphane Israël delivered the comments to a French radio station on April 8, the European Spaceflight newsletter reported.
Arianespace is currently preparing its Ariane 6 rocket for a test flight following years of delays. Europe's workhorse Ariane 5, which has been operational for nearly 30 years, recently launched the JUICE Jupiter mission and now has only one flight remaining before retirement.
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Ariane 6 will be expendable, despite entering development nearly a decade ago, when reusability was being developed and tested in the United States, most famously by SpaceX.
"When the decisions were made on Ariane 6, we did so with the technologies that were available to quickly introduce a new rocket," said Israël, according to European Spaceflight.
The delays to Ariane 6, however, mean that Europe lacks its own options for access to space. This issue was highlighted in a recent report from an independent advisory group to the European Space Agency.
Israël stated that, in his opinion, Ariane 6 would fly for more than 10 years before Europe transitions to a reusable successor in the 2030s.
Aside from Arianespace, Europe is currently fostering a number of private rocket companies, including Rocket Factory Augsburg, Isar Aerospace, PLD Space and Skyrora, with some of these rockets to be reusable. However the rockets in development are light-lift, whereas Ariane 6 and its possible successor are much more capable, medium-heavy-lift rockets.