Elon Musk and the EU are Going to Space Together
According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, the European Space Agency (ESA) has contracted Elon Musk’s SpaceX to launch navigation satellites into orbit next year. This comes as a surprise, since Musk is not particularly popular in Europe. However, the EU has been left with no other options, as their previous choice, Vladimir Putin and his Soyuz rockets, have become frowned upon after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Europe’s Last Resort
SpaceX’s Falcon rockets will be used by the ESA to send up to four Galileo satellites into space in order to strengthen the bloc’s autonomous global positioning system. This system provides encrypted data to militaries and law enforcement. While some officials in Europe have expressed concern about relying on US businesses and US-based launches, the delays in Europe’s own rocket programs have left them with no alternatives.
- Launch companies in France, Spain, Germany, and other European countries are still facing technical difficulties with their upcoming rocket models.
- Italy’s Vega C rocket failed during a launch last December, resulting in the destruction of two Airbus satellites.
The contract between the ESA and SpaceX still needs approval from EU member states, but it is expected to be cleared by the end of the year. The exact value of the deal has not been disclosed, but a typical SpaceX launch costs around $62 million.
Musk’s Tenuous Relationship with the EU
Elon Musk has had his fair share of disagreements with the EU. He even considered removing the X social media platform from the bloc in response to the Digital Services Act, which aims to prevent the spread of harmful content. Musk has also clashed with EU Commissioner Thierry Breton over disinformation sharing on the X platform during the Israel-Hamas conflict. Javier Benedicto, representing the ESA, stated that they don’t anticipate further collaborations with SpaceX after this launch. It seems like this partnership is more of a temporary arrangement than a long-term commitment.
While Europe may not be Musk’s biggest fan, the partnership with SpaceX shows the undeniable reliance on Musk’s capabilities in the rocket industry. Musk’s ingenuity and track record have made him a viable option for the EU, despite any personal disagreements. Only time will tell if this collaboration sets a precedent for future European space missions.