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European ministers agree on Ariane 5 upgrade, Orion participation
Posted: Thu, Nov 22, 2012, 1:13 PM ET (1813 GMT)
ESA Ministers from the 20 member states of the European Space Agency (ESA) concluded their two-day meeting Wednesday, agreeing to develop an upgraded version of the Ariane 5 launch vehicle and to provide a service module for NASA's Orion spacecraft. ESA ministers decided to pursue development of an upgraded Ariane 5, called the Ariane 5 Midlife Evolution (ME), to increase the vehicle's payload capacity. ESA selected that option over immediate development of a successor vehicle, Ariane 6; ESA decided to instead fund design studies on the Ariane 6 and defer a decision on its development until 2014. Ministers also agreed to build a service module for NASA's Orion spacecraft as its contribution to ISS operations after 2017. Officials also made decisions on other ESA programs, including rejecting a German-led proposal for a robotic lunar lander mission but agreeing to cooperate with Russia on the ExoMars program.
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