Reaction Engines is now in the running for ESA's next space transport: Europes Next-gen Rocket Design Competition Included Surprise Finalist - SpaceNews.com.
ESA also plans to allow the selected launcher project to distribute work as it sees fit rather than according to the financial contributions of the member countries. The focus on costs is motivated by a desire to eliminate the annual subsidy for the Ariane V and also to deal with new low price competition: ESA officials have been spooked by Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, Calif., which has demonstrated its technical prowess with the launch of its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon cargo vehicle to the international space station. SpaceX officials say one of the keys to its success is that Falcon 9 is built in one factory owned by SpaceX.
“That’s not building an industry, it’s just building a company,” scoffed one official with a commercial rocket supplier competing with SpaceX. But for European government officials concerned about the long-term viability of their Ariane rocket line, SpaceX has become a useful case study of one way to cut costs.