Europe seeks bigger piece of space market with new launchers

PARIS (AP) — France, Germany and Italy have announced an agreement for a new-generation European space launcher project. It’s part of apparent efforts to better compete with Elon Musk’s SpaceX and other rocket programs in the U.S. and China. A statement from the three governments announced an unspecified amount of public funding for the plan. The European Space Agency would award contracts to the companies involved. The next-generation Ariane and Vega launchers would be used to boost Europe’s role in the commercial and government satellite markets. The governments also agreed to support development of European-made mini and micro rocket launch systems.