SpaceX hired for two European launches to fill gap left by Russia
Europe will commission two rocket launches from Elon Musk's SpaceX after the Ukraine conflict barred...
Europe will commission two rocket launches from Elon Musk's SpaceX after the Ukraine conflict barred access to Russia's Soyuz, the European Space Agency (ESA) confirmed on Thursday (Oct 20).
The launches include the Euclid space telescope and the Hera probe, a follow-up mission to NASA's DART spacecraft which last month succeeded in altering the path of a moonlet in the first test of a future planetary defence system.
"The member states have decided that Euclid and Hera are proposed to be launched on Falcon 9," ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher told reporters after a meeting of the 22-nation agency's ministerial council.
The launches will take place in 2023 and 2024 respectively.
Industry sources had said up to two launches could be affected by the switch from Soyuz to SpaceX.
A third payload which had been due to ride on Soyuz - the Earth Cloud Aerosol and Radiation Explorer, or EarthCARE - will now be launched on Europe's Vega C instead, Aschbacher said.