The European Space Agency (ESA) has signed a new deal to contribute €1.7bn to the launcher programmes’ industrial prime contractor Airbus Safran Launchers (ASL) to continue development, production and operation of Ariane 6 launcher.

As part of the deal, which is an amendment to the agreement signed last August, ESA will release the money between now and 2023.

As an addition to the initial commitment of approximately €680m, the funding will allow ASL to complete development of the two new versions of Ariane 6 launcher, Ariane 62 and 64.

The newly signed agreement has been followed by a unanimous decision taken by ESA member states in September to continue the development of Ariane 6 programme.

A total of €2.4bn has been earmarked for the development and production of Ariane 6.

"We can continue to develop a flexible, modular and competitive launcher that will fly in 2020."

ASL CEO Alain Charmeau said: “We have met the deadlines and quality objectives set, and now, thanks to the industrial organisation rolled out in record time, we can continue to develop a flexible, modular and competitive launcher that will fly in 2020.

"Our commitment and that of our European industrial partners shows our determination to provide our institutional and commercial customers with an equally reliable and more competitive launcher adapted to the rapidly changing space market."

With the assurance of funding, ASL and its partners will now finalise the development of the two versions of the Ariane 6 launcher and will begin its production process.

French space agency CNES is involved as a prime contractor for the launch pad and associated facilities to be provided at Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, for the Ariane 6 programme.

Image: Artist's view of the configuration of Ariane 6 using four boosters. Photo: courtesy of ESA.