The shrinking ambitions of Europe and the United States are witnessed in more obscure programmes. Grandiose ambitions are tempered and then disowned. Such becomes the European manned space programme that never was.
Jean-Yves Le Gall, chief executive of launch-services provider Arianespace, agreed in an interview that an all-European manned space effort is off the table. "It's a dream," according to Mr. Le Gall, "but it's not realistic."
The dream was part of the doumentary word creation that all bureaux embark upon. Westerm dependence upon Soyuz has led to a scaling down and abandonment of co-operation, as their management of vehicle development truly sucks.
The agency's chief also said that by failing in the past to set up robust international space-transportation partnerships, Europe and the U.S. "made a collective mistake." As a result, Mr. Dordain said, "we now face the not very comfortable situation" of being totally dependent, at least for the next few years, on Russian technology to reach the international space station.
It is untrue to say that the European dream of manned spaceflight has ended. It never began.