The ESA has painted a fairly clear picture of what the next gen Ariane launcher is set to look like.
Ariane 6 is destined to replace Ariane 5 circa 2021 and interestingly, its design aims at a simpler, cheaper rocket with a payload to orbit capability similar to that of the current Arianespace workhorse.
The most interesting design choice is that of the full solid propellant 1st and 2nd stages.
Exit the Vulcain engine, enter 3 solid propellant boosters, closely based on that of the smaller Vega launcher, all in an effort to cut cost. They're also going back to a 3 stages setup, with the 2nd stage also going solid. The third stage (payload container) retains a reignitable liquid propellant engine, for obvious reasons.
Ariane is now becoming, more than ever, a 'light the fuse, step back and enjoy the show' rocket. I like the 'back to basics' approach, but I will miss the beautiful (and beautifully complex) liquid fuel engines. I guess throttling isn't a dire necessity anymore?
I'm not up to date on the issue, but I wonder if there is any other commercial launcher out there that relies so much on solid propellant?
Are the solid fuel boosters steerable?