STORY: Elon Musk’s SpaceX might soon have a new customer.
The European Space Agency has opened talks over using the firm’s rockets.
It faces a shortage of satellite launchers after Western sanctions blocked access to Russia’s Soyuz rockets.
The latest version of Europe’s own Ariane launcher has also been hit by delays to its development.
Now the ESA says technical discussions are under way with SpaceX.
The agency described it as the most operational of all alternatives.
But officials stressed that they needed to check technical compatibility before they agreed any launch deal.
Japanese rockets are another option.
The country is counting down to the launch of its latest system.
Meanwhile the fallout from the Ukraine conflict is already proving a boon for SpaceX.
It’s been sweeping up other customers who would normally use Russian rockets.
On Monday (August 8), Northrop Grumman booked three missions on SpaceX launchers to ferry cargo to the International Space Station.
The U.S. aerospace firm is having to redesign its own Antares rockets, as they use Russian-made engines.
Satellite internet firm OneWeb has also booked at least one flight with SpaceX.