Re: ESA suffers from the same disease as NASA
There's that weird idea that SpaceX is competing with NASA again. NASA doesn't build or operate rockets, it runs air and space research programs. SpaceX doesn't have a space exploration program, it builds rockets and launches customers' payloads.
SpaceX had a designed, tested, and validated solution for around $250M.
SpaceX's initial Falcon 9 development costs of $400 million included about $250 million from NASA. Later reusability refinements on the Falcon 9 and development of SpaceX's Dragon capsule depended heavily on NASA's multi-billion dollar commercial launch services contracts and commercial crew delivery contracts. SpaceX's DragonEye docking system for the capsules was tested on shuttle flights (themselves run by a private company, the United Space Alliance) to the International Space Station (which was largely built by western private sector entities, like Boeing).
SpaceX is again getting billions of dollars from NASA to develop the Starship. As of last count, two loads of funding under NASA's Human Launch Services contracts have given SpaceX $4.04 billion to get Starship airborne and, eventually, deliver people to the moon.
SpaceX, like Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, Arianespace, and many other private entities, are contractors for NASA. NASA gets huge sums of funding from Congress to study space and then finds contractors to build and fly its rockets because the US public thinks it is uncool for government agencies to run, say, rocket factories. NASA's launch service contractors, meanwhile...
Companies like SpaceX are going to leave them in the dust, as they should.
...never created or ran space exploration programs. SpaceX hasn't put a penny of its own money into developing a deep space probe, running teams of space researchers and astronomers, or operating aerodynamics research labs like NASA has. SpaceX is a delivery service that builds its own delivery vehicles, with a developing side hustle in communications.
SpaceX has been groundbreaking in its advancement of launch services and cost reductions, which have pretty much knocked Boeing and Lockheed-Martin (operating as the United Launch Alliance) out of the market. Under Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX has done some great work. And NASA is loving that SpaceX work: SpaceX lets NASA run redundant, competing lines of rocket and lander development to make sure Artemis gets to the moon whether the SLS tanks or Starship keeps blowing up.
It's just a misunderstanding to think that SpaceX is competing with NASA. They're doing completely different things.