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Europe changes Ariane 6 launcher plans

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DocM    15,978

The solid fuel Ariane 6 is out and a modified Ariane 6 based on Ariane 5 technologies is in.

Also: Airbus has a 600kN (134,885 lbf) methane engine on the P3.2 test stand in Germany.

http://www.spacenews.com/article/launch-report/42574germany-agrees-to-forgo-ariane-5-upgrade-in-favor-of-next-generation

Germany Agrees to Forgo Ariane 5 Upgrade in Favor of Next-generation Launcher

PARIS ? The German government has agreed to drop its demand that Europe develop a long-planned upgrade of today?s Ariane 5 rocket and instead proceed with a new-generation Ariane 6 that borrows heavily on Ariane 5 technology, Germany?s space minister said.

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Germany had said the Ariane 5 ME, which is basically today?s Ariane 5 with a new, multi-ignition upper stage and about 20 percent more power, is a much lower-risk endeavor and should be approved before any commitment to Ariane 6.

France had argued otherwise, first by proposing a solid-fuel-based Ariane 6 that found little support in industry or among commercial satellite fleet operators ? the main customers for today?s Ariane 5 ? and then by aligning with a proposal by Ariane prime contractor Airbus Defence and Space and motor-maker Safran on Ariane 6.

The Ariane 6 comes in two models: an Ariane 62 that would be used mainly for government missions to medium- and low-Earth orbit, and a heavier Ariane 64 with solid-rocket boosters that would share technologies with the enhanced Vega rocket.

The new Ariane 6 program model, as described by ESA Director-General Jean-Jacques Dordain in an Oct. 29 response questions from Germany, would force industry to assume the risks associated with the commercial market, meaning no more annual government support payments to permit the launch services business to make ends meet.

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The new Ariane 6 approach thus represents a climb-down from the earlier positions held by both the French and German governments, and by ESA, whose governments in late 2012 agreed to fund initial studies of the now-scrapped, solid-fueled Ariane 6 design.

The Ariane 6 rocket would be ready for an inaugural flight in 2020.

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DocM    15,978

Ariane 6 configurations,

A LOX/LH2 core stage based on the Vulcain engine (Ariane 5 ECA and ME)

2 (A62) or 4 (A64) P120 solid rocket boosters, common with Vega-C (an evolution of the current Vega launcher)

A LOX/LH2 upper stage powered by a Vinci engine, based on the Ariane 5 ME upper stage

ariane6concept.jpg

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DocM    15,978

ArianeGroup has contracted with Trollhättan, Sweden's GKN to 3D print turbines for Ariane 6 and the re-usable Prometheus methane engine. 

 

Prometheus would serve as both a booster and upper stage engine, and be used in an Ariane 6 upgrade and re-usable launchers. 

 

They're targeting a cost of $1m, a little more than Merlin 1D and 5x cheaper than Ariane's Vulcain 2.

 

https://spacenews.com/arianegroup-supplier-gkn-to-3d-print-turbines-for-reusable-prometheus-engines/

 

Prometheus-Engine-Jpeg.jpg

 

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Unobscured Vision    2,642

They won't regret doing so, either. :yes: 

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DocM    15,978

If they can't sell enough A6's to Euopean nations to go into production....

 

https://spacenews.com/arianespace-says-full-ariane-6-production-held-up-by-missing-government-contracts/

 

Quote

Arianespace says full Ariane 6 production held up by missing government contracts

 

WASHINGTON — European launch provider Arianespace says that in order to sign a manufacturing contract for the first 14 next-generation Ariane 6 rockets, it first needs European governmental organizations to buy at least four more Ariane 6 missions for the 2020 to 2023 time frame.
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“We are confident it will happen,” Israël said of the remaining government missions. “But it is not done yet. We are working in this direction. It is now quite urgent because industry has anticipated the manufacturing of these first launchers, but now we need these institutional contracts to fully contractualize the first Ariane 6s.”
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Unobscured Vision    2,642

Not altogether surprising ... too expensive, not enough political will and not enough commercial demand for it.

 

Give things 5~10 years and that likely will change (and so will the technology, by necessity). It'll be Ariane 7 by that iteration. Radically different than A6.

 

They're trying to do things "the old way" and it won't work at the price/production points they're aiming for. Not with the radical innovations that SpaceX, Blue Origin, and the other NewSpace companies have put in-field.

 

It's like the 1983 49'ers (Joe Montana era) were trying to play against the 1997 Packers. Still very, very capable but in that context they're completely outmatched.

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DocM    15,978

Yup.

 

Several years ago ArianeSpace hired a US consultant to take a trip through Hawthorne (they couldn't because of our ITAR laws) and report on SpaceX's operation. He told them they were in big trouble - SpaceX was The Real Deal; well funded, professional and above all aggressive.

 

They didn't take it to heart, so by  the time they did respond it was way too late. Now they're targeting Falcon 9, but there's an 800 lb gorilla coming they have no response for.

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DocM    15,978

Too little, too late...

 

Ars Technica...

 


French auditor says Ariane 6 rocket too conventional to compete with SpaceX

"This new launcher does not constitute a sustainable response."

France's independent state auditor, the Cour des comptes, has raised concerns about the viability of Europe's new rocket, the Ariane 6 launcher. In its 2019 annual report, the auditor said the France-based launch company Arianespace is also being too cautious as it grapples with competitors like the US-based SpaceX.

"In 2017, Arianespace lost global leadership in the commercial market to the American company SpaceX," the report finds. "This  competitor's business model is based on the breakthrough model of reusable rockets."

The report discusses the potential for further losses of market share and revenues against the rise of competition from SpaceX and a global dip in demand for the launch of commercial satellites to geostationary orbit. It also criticizes the choices European leaders made in 2014, when they selected the design for its next-generation rocket, the Ariane 6. This booster may fly for the first time in 2020 from the European spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.
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flyingskippy    164

It's the European equivalent to NASA's SLS.

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Unobscured Vision    2,642

Yup. And what's worse, they'll probably go ahead with it anyway because they have no other option other than to try to secure a long-term, multi-launch (in the dozens) bulk buy with SpaceX that would cost FAR less than cutting their own metal.

 

And ya know what? ITAR would cut 'em off before they could even finish the sentence.

 

The ESA is hosed -- AND stuck with the A5, Vega and A6, or going back to the drawing board and hoping that they can redesign for reuse.

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IsItPluggedIn    1,684

They will keep building it because its a jobs program. Its not about cost or functionality, similar to SLS.

 

 

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Unobscured Vision    2,642

SLS isn't a jobs program. It's a great money pit that wasn't intended to do a lot of anything. Another "bridge to nowhere". Purely political.

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