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Russian Scientist Charged With Espionage Related to the Ariane Rocket Development

Billionaires’ space trips and the rise of space tourism are just the tip of iceberg when it comes to the future of economic development outside the Earth. Behind the scenes, there’s a struggle to secure a good spot among those who will be leading the space race. And this involves having access to the latest technology developments, even it’s done fraudulently.
The Ariane program has been successful for over three decades 7 photos
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A Russian scientist that had been arrested in the summer of 2021 was recently charged with espionage by German prosecutors, Euronews reports. Ilnur N. had been working as a research assistant for a science and technology professor at a Bavarian University while also acting as a spy, since at least 2019. The focal point of this activity was the Ariane rocket, which is the main European vehicle for space launches.

Apparently, the suspect would have regular meetings with Russia’s SVR foreign intelligence service representatives, sharing information about the various stages of development of the Ariane rocket, as well as other products related to airspace research. For now, the prosecutors still have to decide whether they will take the case to trial or not. But the official charges prove that there’s a real competition when it comes to space launch-related technology, especially since new players, such as the UK, are trying to catch up with the ones who have traditionally dominated space exploration.

According to the European Space Agency (ESA), the Ariane 5 rocket can be described as “the workhorse of Europe’s independent access to space.” The Ariane program has been successful for over three decades, and the latest version of the rocket is seen as one of the most reliable launchers in the world.

Considered a major technological evolution for the European rocket program, Ariane 5 is comprised of a core stage, with two side boosters, an upper stage, and the payload fairing. The cryogenic upper stage is powered by a liquid-propellant engine for 6.6 tons of thrust, while the Vulcain 2 engine of the core stage provides 140 tons of thrust.

The powerful European rocket whose secrets are apparently coveted by Russian spies was recently used to launch the famous James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) at the end of last year.


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