Author Topic: Has the countdown to Ariane 6 begun?  (Read 27449 times)

Offline johnxx9

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Has the countdown to Ariane 6 begun?
« on: 08/05/2009 05:28 PM »
A very good article by Rob Coppinger of Flight Global

http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/2009/07/14/329641/has-the-countdown-to-ariane-6-begun.html



If this family only includes medium and medium-heavy launchers than it would point to the fact that ESA has no plans for Manned lunar exploration or maybe even orbital human spaceflight .

Offline Danderman

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Re: Has the countdown to Ariane 6 begun?
« Reply #1 on: 08/05/2009 06:35 PM »
It looks like A6 is supposed to be less capable than A5, and if so, would seem to intrude in the market for Soyuz, which seems odd.

If the goal is to uprate A5 into a lunar capable booster, I would suggest that ESA invite Ukraine into the club, and replace the A5 solids with Zenit strapons. This would give the modified A5 somewhere around 40% the lift of Saturn V, which would be extremely useful for Exploration.

Online ugordan

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Re: Has the countdown to Ariane 6 begun?
« Reply #2 on: 08/05/2009 07:52 PM »
It looks like A6 is supposed to be less capable than A5, and if so, would seem to intrude in the market for Soyuz, which seems odd.

Ariane V as it stands now is overpowered for the commercial missions it flies - illustrated by it carrying 2 sats at a time most of the time. It was sized to carry Hermes. In light of this, it's not surprising the Ariane 6 appears to be a step down in basic capability.

Offline johnxx9

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Re: Has the countdown to Ariane 6 begun?
« Reply #3 on: 08/05/2009 08:47 PM »
Although these launchers would only be commissioned after 2020, (ie by that ISS would be history) it would tell us that ESA isn't keen on any follow-on versions of ATV. It would also limit ESA's capability in deep space missions (ie The Aurora Program)

Offline Hermit

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Re: Has the countdown to Ariane 6 begun?
« Reply #4 on: 08/05/2009 09:15 PM »
There has also been mention of an Ariane5-based 50T launcher, using 4 solid boosters and 1 or 2 Vinci engines as an upper stage. This, coupled with the Mid-life evolution to the A5 (possibly man-rated) would drive the Aurora program. If the US is given the go-ahead for their impressive ideas for new space exploration, then ESA will look to support this new mission and these rockets would be very useful.

The A6 would then fill a nice gap below the capabilities of the A5 where it can more cheaply launch satellites, but not function for the exploration mission. A5 ME can continue dual-lifts, and be used for Exploration, hopefully costs will come down, especially once the 50T launcher is operational due to greater use of current engines (solids, Vulcain 2 or 3 and the Vinci), and due to various upgrades that would have been introduced.

Soyuz2 can put about 3T to GTO (wikipedia). A6 is aiming slightly higher (3-6T for one A6 configuration), but I think that depends on which configuration they go for.

If ESA are clever they will continue to use and refine the A5 and produce an A5 derivative, maximising reuse of current components. They could atleast learn a lesson from the Russians: if you want a cheap launcher, use it for a half-century. The A6 could be complimentary. Or not. I'm sure there's a quote about eggs, baskets and the like.  ;)


Edited for corrections and clarity.
« Last Edit: 08/05/2009 09:58 PM by Hermit »

Offline simon-th

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Re: Has the countdown to Ariane 6 begun?
« Reply #5 on: 08/06/2009 09:12 AM »
Although these launchers would only be commissioned after 2020, (ie by that ISS would be history) it would tell us that ESA isn't keen on any follow-on versions of ATV. It would also limit ESA's capability in deep space missions (ie The Aurora Program)

The Aurora Program is more or less paper. It just says that ESA wants to take part in a human mission to Mars if NASA decides to go.

ESA will never ever get the funds to develop an HLV absent a major shift in policy in Europe, which I can't see right now. On the contrary, many people are unfortunately opposed to a more unified Europe which would then also require to do more HSF as a show of "national" strength and technological advancement.

Offline PDJennings

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Re: Has the countdown to Ariane 6 begun?
« Reply #6 on: 08/06/2009 04:46 PM »
A very good article by Rob Coppinger of Flight Global

If this family only includes medium and medium-heavy launchers than it would point to the fact that ESA has no plans for Manned lunar exploration or maybe even orbital human spaceflight .

The article states that the A6 will have "higher reliability than Ariane 5, while being 40% cheaper to build."  This is illogical on the face of it.  Not counting the development cost of a new launcher, the cost to orbit two satellites will still be 0.6 + 0.6 = 1.2 times the cost of the Ariane 5 launching two at a time.  They would need to be >50% cheaper to show even a marginal cost benefit.

Also, a higher reliability than the A5 seems unnecessary.  Ariane insurance premiums are once again subsidizing the rest of the commercial industry.  Perhaps "higher reliability" is a coded reference to man rating the A6?  But in that case it seems they would have left off the solid boosters.  Other than the all-solid variant, the other two concepts look a great deal like Delta IV and Atlas V.

Developing the A5 had some good arguments behind it.  The A4 family was at the end of its growth limit, expensive, and no longer well sized to the commercial market.  The A5 by contrast seems well adapted to current market reality, has a simpler design, and still has growth options (ECB).  My conclusion is that this A6 idea is nothing but a jobs program.  It's a shame the same engineers won't be put to work developing something that doesn't exist, such as a manned ATV or flyback liquid boosters for A5, rather than duplicating a capability that already exists.

Offline nacnud

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Re: Has the countdown to Ariane 6 begun?
« Reply #7 on: 08/06/2009 05:04 PM »
Well there is also talk from Reaction Engines to try and get their technology up to a Technology Readiness Level high enough that it to can be considered when the A6 is presented to the council of ministers in 2011. So that is another possibility.
« Last Edit: 08/06/2009 05:25 PM by nacnud »

Offline Hermit

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Re: Has the countdown to Ariane 6 begun?
« Reply #8 on: 08/06/2009 05:09 PM »
The A6 is supposed to have additional benefits over those mentioned: its to entail shorter launch campaigns which would reduce launch support costs etc.

Offline Hermit

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Re: Has the countdown to Ariane 6 begun?
« Reply #9 on: 08/06/2009 05:12 PM »
Well there is also talk from Reaction Engines to try and they their technology up to a Technology Readiness Level high enough that it to can be considered when the A6 is presented to the council of ministers in 2011. So that is another possibility.

Wouldn't that be kool. That could certainly be possible if they receive support from British ministers or even a British Space Agency! Who knows?

Offline catfry

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Re: Has the countdown to Ariane 6 begun?
« Reply #10 on: 08/06/2009 08:06 PM »
A very good article by Rob Coppinger of Flight Global

If this family only includes medium and medium-heavy launchers than it would point to the fact that ESA has no plans for Manned lunar exploration or maybe even orbital human spaceflight .

The article states that the A6 will have "higher reliability than Ariane 5, while being 40% cheaper to build."  This is illogical on the face of it.  Not counting the development cost of a new launcher, the cost to orbit two satellites will still be 0.6 + 0.6 = 1.2 times the cost of the Ariane 5 launching two at a time.  They would need to be >50% cheaper to show even a marginal cost benefit.

Also, a higher reliability than the A5 seems unnecessary.  Ariane insurance premiums are once again subsidizing the rest of the commercial industry.  Perhaps "higher reliability" is a coded reference to man rating the A6?  But in that case it seems they would have left off the solid boosters.  Other than the all-solid variant, the other two concepts look a great deal like Delta IV and Atlas V.

Developing the A5 had some good arguments behind it.  The A4 family was at the end of its growth limit, expensive, and no longer well sized to the commercial market.  The A5 by contrast seems well adapted to current market reality, has a simpler design, and still has growth options (ECB).  My conclusion is that this A6 idea is nothing but a jobs program.  It's a shame the same engineers won't be put to work developing something that doesn't exist, such as a manned ATV or flyback liquid boosters for A5, rather than duplicating a capability that already exists.

I agree with all of this. Nothing of what I have heard about this development seems to have any clear justification other than keeping the industry ticking over.
Obviously if they could make it cheaper, great! There's just no details about how this could be achieved.
« Last Edit: 08/06/2009 08:08 PM by catfry »

Offline simon-th

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Re: Has the countdown to Ariane 6 begun?
« Reply #11 on: 08/06/2009 09:27 PM »

I agree with all of this. Nothing of what I have heard about this development seems to have any clear justification other than keeping the industry ticking over.
Obviously if they could make it cheaper, great! There's just no details about how this could be achieved.

Why is Russia putting money in the development of the Angara launch family. According to you, Angara couldn't be cheaper, more reliable and have other advantages compared to Soyuz and Progress becuase "there are no details showing that". Well, just like the Angara family, the Ariane 6 rocket family is an advanced modular system which will be significantly cheaper than the Ariane 5 launcher because it is designed to that effect.

That being said, the justification for Ariane 6 is
a. to get a cheaper launch vehicle
b. which can be readied and launched quicker
c. is more flexible in using single-launches for payloads rather than dual-launches
d. rather than continuing Soyuz launches from Korou (after all Soyuz is a Russian launcher) you will have Ariane 5 launches for all payloads, no matter the size
e. Ariane 6 will be developed to be able to launch not only single payloads but also a multitude of smaller payloads if necessary
f. and it will increase reliability by bypassing a lot of safety concerns which have unfortunately been incorporated in the design of Ariane 5

Offline PDJennings

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Re: Has the countdown to Ariane 6 begun?
« Reply #12 on: 08/06/2009 10:00 PM »
Why is Russia putting money in the development of the Angara launch family. According to you, Angara couldn't be cheaper, more reliable and have other advantages compared to Soyuz and Progress becuase "there are no details showing that".

This is a false comparison.  Angara is in the Proton class, not Soyuz class.  Russia lacks a sovereign launch site for this class of payload, and each Proton requires 600 tons of highly toxic propellants.  Eliminating these two problems would justify Angara development even if there were no improvement in recurring cost or reliability. 

Well, just like the Angara family, the Ariane 6 rocket family is an advanced modular system which will be significantly cheaper than the Ariane 5 launcher because it is designed to that effect.

I don't understand your "modular" comment.  The A6 described in the article is not modular.  It is also a knockoff of EELV and can hardly expect to achieve lower operating costs than EELV did.  I can believe the unit recurring costs would be much lower than for A5 (article gives 40% improvement in build cost).  But that will not decrease launch cost per payload compared to A5.  And I just don't see how a claim for greater than 50% cost reduction can be credible.

That being said, the justification for Ariane 6 is
a. to get a cheaper launch vehicle
b. which can be readied and launched quicker
c. is more flexible in using single-launches for payloads rather than dual-launches

Now here are some reasons for A6 that make sense, although note well that the cost per payload is not being claimed to be cheaper.  There are also limits on just how much a launch campaign can be speeded up.   You might also add that the insurance capacity issue would be mitigated by single launch.  Reason (c) is the best justification for A6 in your list.  But it is also an admission that the dual launch policy used for decades now is a failure.  I would not be so quick to agree to that, myself.  It has been one of the keys to market domination.

Ironically, cessation of the dual launch policy will also undercut the Ariane program's historical need for high market share.  They will not be able to argue for subsidy in lean years on the basis that "we must maintain market share."  There will be less incentive for price wars, for the same reason.  That's probably good news for competing launchers, but bad news for satellite operators.  I am not sure if it helps or hurts Arianespace, on balance, but it appears to mark a significant change in their philosophy.

Offline hop

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Re: Has the countdown to Ariane 6 begun?
« Reply #13 on: 08/06/2009 10:25 PM »
This is a false comparison.  Angara is in the Proton class, not Soyuz class.
It's both. Angara 1.1 is much closer to Soyuz.

edit: Actually 1 is closer to the various ICBM based launchers, to which most of the same arguments for replacing Proton also apply.
« Last Edit: 08/07/2009 12:48 AM by hop »

Offline simon-th

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Re: Has the countdown to Ariane 6 begun?
« Reply #14 on: 08/07/2009 07:38 AM »

This is a false comparison.  Angara is in the Proton class, not Soyuz class.  Russia lacks a sovereign launch site for this class of payload, and each Proton requires 600 tons of highly toxic propellants.  Eliminating these two problems would justify Angara development even if there were no improvement in recurring cost or reliability. 

Angara is a modular launch family with an envisioned capacity of 2mt to 30mt to LEO and 2mt to about 12mt to GTO.

Ariane 6, as proposed right now (all different candidates), is a modular launch family with an envisioned capacity of 3mt to about 8mt to GTO and capable of launching an ATV-sized (15-20mt) payload to LEO.

Russia could manufacture launch pads for Soyuz and Proton at the Vostochny Cosmodrome and actually does have a launch capability of Soyuz from Plesetsk Cosmodrome. They choose to modify Vostochny and Plesetsk for the Angara family because that's their next launch family - they could however have done so for Proton as well.

The use of toxic fuels for Proton is a problem, correct - but didn't limit their ability to launch Protons for the last more than 40 years.

Quote
I don't understand your "modular" comment. The A6 described in the article is not modular.

See above. The requirements by ESA says A6 has to be modular - e.g. same core stage, same strap-ons in different configurations, same upper stage etc. depending on the design chosen.

Quote
It is also a knockoff of EELV and can hardly expect to achieve lower operating costs than EELV did.  I can believe the unit recurring costs would be much lower than for A5 (article gives 40% improvement in build cost).  But that will not decrease launch cost per payload compared to A5.  And I just don't see how a claim for greater than 50% cost reduction can be credible.

What do you base your statement on? ESA hasn't even chosen a launch vehicle configuration yet. The article above (and the picture) is just describing one proposal. The "40% cheaper" is a requirement for the development program and is talking about kg to GTO. It's the primary aim of the A6 program to reduce costs (and gain flexibility with the modular approach)


Quote
There are also limits on just how much a launch campaign can be speeded up.   You might also add that the insurance capacity issue would be mitigated by single launch.  Reason (c) is the best justification for A6 in your list.  But it is also an admission that the dual launch policy used for decades now is a failure.  I would not be so quick to agree to that, myself.  It has been one of the keys to market domination.

1. Currently, the maximum capacity of Ariane 5 launches are 2 per month (due to integration and facility constraints). The proposed launch architecture wants to be able to do a launch followed by a second launch 1 week later.

2. The dual launch policy is not a strength, it is a weakness. Arianespace is the leader in the commerical sat launch market not because of it but despite it. The original claim in the 1980s that GTO sats would grow to 8 to 10t has not materialized and the trend right now doesn't show that it will ever materialize. It makes more sense to build a rocket that can do a single dedicated launch for one payload.

Quote
Ironically, cessation of the dual launch policy will also undercut the Ariane program's historical need for high market share.  They will not be able to argue for subsidy in lean years on the basis that "we must maintain market share."  There will be less incentive for price wars, for the same reason.  That's probably good news for competing launchers, but bad news for satellite operators.  I am not sure if it helps or hurts Arianespace, on balance, but it appears to mark a significant change in their philosophy.

Reducing subsidies and reducing to waste taxpayer money is a good thing. Arianespace isn't created to be the market leader in commercial satellite launchers all the while getting subsidies from European taxpayers. The launch frequency needs to be kept up or you end up paying a lot more than your subsidies in additional costs for ESA payloads and defense payloads from Europe flown on Ariane 5. With Ariane 6 you can have the same flight frequency (6-8 flights per year) and thus spreading fixed costs the same way, however with fewer subsidies because the launchers will be cheaper (and smaller). You can also end the dreadful reliance on Soyuz (which is going to be phased out by Russia anyway - which leads to ESA having no medium lift capability to GTO).

Offline Analyst

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Re: Has the countdown to Ariane 6 begun?
« Reply #15 on: 08/07/2009 07:51 AM »
2. The dual launch policy is not a strength, it is a weakness. Arianespace is the leader in the commerical sat launch market not because of it but despite it. The original claim in the 1980s that GTO sats would grow to 8 to 10t has not materialized and the trend right now doesn't show that it will ever materialize. It makes more sense to build a rocket that can do a single dedicated launch for one payload.

Have you any proof for this weakness? I see it as a great advantage.

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Offline rklaehn

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Re: Has the countdown to Ariane 6 begun?
« Reply #16 on: 08/07/2009 08:01 AM »
2. The dual launch policy is not a strength, it is a weakness. Arianespace is the leader in the commerical sat launch market not because of it but despite it. The original claim in the 1980s that GTO sats would grow to 8 to 10t has not materialized and the trend right now doesn't show that it will ever materialize. It makes more sense to build a rocket that can do a single dedicated launch for one payload.

Have you any proof for this weakness? I see it as a great advantage.

The fact that they are planning to go to a single sat launcher seems to indicate that arianespace does not see dual launch as an advantage.
Try the ISS 3D visualization at http://www.heavens-above.com/ISS_3D.aspx

Offline simpl simon

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Re: Has the countdown to Ariane 6 begun?
« Reply #17 on: 08/07/2009 10:16 AM »
2. The dual launch policy is not a strength, it is a weakness. Arianespace is the leader in the commerical sat launch market not because of it but despite it. The original claim in the 1980s that GTO sats would grow to 8 to 10t has not materialized and the trend right now doesn't show that it will ever materialize. It makes more sense to build a rocket that can do a single dedicated launch for one payload.

Have you any proof for this weakness? I see it as a great advantage.

The fact that they are planning to go to a single sat launcher seems to indicate that arianespace does not see dual launch as an advantage.
There have been examples where delays with one of the two dual-launch payload satellites have impacted the schedule of the other. For customers who need precise control over the launch date, a cheaper single-launch vehicle offers a competitive advantage.
Also, a higher launch rate leads to a more cost-effective utilisation of the ground infrastructure, i.e. cheaper launches.

Offline bobthemonkey

Re: Has the countdown to Ariane 6 begun?
« Reply #18 on: 08/07/2009 10:23 AM »
The satelite owners have declared a preference to Arianespace for single launch apparently.

A6 is intended to provide the same cost savings that dual launch Ariane 5 provides in a single launch setup.
« Last Edit: 08/07/2009 10:24 AM by bobthemonkey »

Offline Analyst

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Re: Has the countdown to Ariane 6 begun?
« Reply #19 on: 08/07/2009 10:43 AM »
While I kinda see the logic, I wonder why dual launch has been a big success for more than 20 years now?

I also wonder if the satellite owners would not be even more happy if the cost savings from A6 and dual launch are combined. They have to choose between the same costs as today but more flexibility, or much less cost than today and the same flexibility. This trade is not as easy as it seems.

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