Europe’s Ariane 5 space rocket is to be given an upgrade as part of a 10.1 billion euro programme of development agreed by European Space Agency member states.
Maintaining the competitiveness of the Ariane 5 project in the face of growing competition from Asia was the main area of concern for delegates meeting in Naples.
ESA member states will also make the propulsion unit for Nasa’s new manned capsule, Orion. Even the UK said it would help with the cost, expected to be around 450 million euros.
UK officials hope that their contribution, thought to be about 20 million euros, will reap dividends in terms of the technology development it will generate for British business.