CentEur - 22/7/2007 6:57 PM
European countries keep preparing (in slow motion) for Ariane 5 replacement, around 2020. Germans have already flown their Phoenix, Italians their USV (Castore). Now they all united with the French around IXV. All af them seem to be convinced the Ariane 5 replacement shall be reusable.
Not really. ELV is still the baseline.
However, Europe has developped know-how in reentry systems for the last 40 years and needs to keep some development rolling to maintain the capacity. RLV studies are a way to prepare for a future when these technologies will be needed. They may help too, on the day when Europe eventually decides to develop manned transportation systems.
Phoenix/Hopper, USV and IXV (former Pre-X) are three different approaches and ESA is trying to put some rationale in it through FLPP. That's all.
Ariane 6 will be expendable. No one seriously questions that beyond a few RLV nuts.