Author Topic: SpaceX at the Guiana Space Centre  (Read 6565 times)

Online Greg Hullender

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SpaceX at the Guiana Space Centre
« on: 10/29/2022 08:52 pm »
With the likely permanent suspension of the ESA's "Soyuz at the Guiana Space Centre" program, and with Europe starting to buy space on Falcon 9 launches, I wondered what it would take for SpaceX to build a launch platform down there so they could benefit from the advantages of launching closer to the equator. I can imagine several problems with doing that, but I'd like to hear from actual experts, and I'd be interested to know if it's even been discussed.

I think the biggest problem would probably be that Arianespace wouldn't want to give SpaceX any more of an advantage than they already have. A second problem might be that the US government could object to having that kind of technology outside the country.  It's also possible that it's too much work for too little benefit from SpaceX's point of view.

Truthfully, I'm amazed the ESA was willing to let the Russians use their spaceport, but given that they did, I think it does open up the question why SpaceX couldn't do the same.


Offline wannamoonbase

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Re: SpaceX at the Guiana Space Centre
« Reply #1 on: 10/29/2022 11:38 pm »
ITAR would likely prevent launching a U.S. rocket in another country.

Also, Falcon 9/Heavy doesn’t need the assist from that location. Spacex would be able to better serve the market with more launch capacity and ASDS’ In Florida
Superheavy + Starship the final push to launch commit!

Offline AmigaClone

Re: SpaceX at the Guiana Space Centre
« Reply #2 on: 10/30/2022 01:34 am »
ITAR would likely prevent launching a U.S. rocket in another country.

Also, Falcon 9/Heavy doesn’t need the assist from that location. Spacex would be able to better serve the market with more launch capacity and ASDS’ In Florida

Since Guiana is technically part of France, ITAR might not be as big an issue at Guiana Space Centre as it might be for the Alcântara Space Center in Brazil.

On the other hand, I don't see SpaceX wanting to invest a lot in a fourth launch site where it would not be able to take advantage of existing some SpaceX facilities (landing pads and a refurbishment location).

Offline Hamish.Student

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Re: SpaceX at the Guiana Space Centre
« Reply #3 on: 10/30/2022 02:38 am »
I'm more curious if we will see ESA buy F9's like they did with Soyuz. I know SpaceX are a launch services provider, but if ESA came in and said: Here is $x million, we will build and maintain the facilities, perform the launches, etc, just provide us launch vehicles. Surely SpaceX wouldn't leave money on the table?
« Last Edit: 10/30/2022 02:39 am by Hamish.Student »

Offline DigitalMan

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Re: SpaceX at the Guiana Space Centre
« Reply #4 on: 10/30/2022 02:50 am »
I'm more curious if we will see ESA buy F9's like they did with Soyuz. I know SpaceX are a launch services provider, but if ESA came in and said: Here is $x million, we will build and maintain the facilities, perform the launches, etc, just provide us launch vehicles. Surely SpaceX wouldn't leave money on the table?

define $x.

Offline Zed_Noir

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Re: SpaceX at the Guiana Space Centre
« Reply #5 on: 10/30/2022 05:48 am »
I'm more curious if we will see ESA buy F9's like they did with Soyuz. I know SpaceX are a launch services provider, but if ESA came in and said: Here is $x million, we will build and maintain the facilities, perform the launches, etc, just provide us launch vehicles. Surely SpaceX wouldn't leave money on the table?
You concept is a little dated. The Falcon family of rockets is likely to be replaced by the Starship family a lot faster than most people expected.

SpaceX could just park a few floating SpaceX launch platforms off the French Guinea coast for Starship launches with ESA paying for the use of the facilities and launchers, while just doing the integration of the payload themselves ashore.

Of course the same floating launch platform concept could be implemented globally for both P2P
 long haul service and space launches.

It is like using UPS or Fedex, you buy a service.


Online Greg Hullender

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Re: SpaceX at the Guiana Space Centre
« Reply #6 on: 10/30/2022 12:47 pm »
I was thinking that the benefit for geosynchronous satellites might make it worth their while. Not only do they get a bit more Δv at launch time, they'd save almost all of the plane-correction-maneuver cost.

Offline AmigaClone

Re: SpaceX at the Guiana Space Centre
« Reply #7 on: 10/30/2022 02:48 pm »
I was thinking that the benefit for geosynchronous satellites might make it worth their while. Not only do they get a bit more Δv at launch time, they'd save almost all of the plane-correction-maneuver cost.

SpaceX does not have many GTO/GEO launches scheduled compared to the number going to LEO. Again, by the time SpaceX would have finished adapting existing facilities for the Falcon 9 or building new ones as might be the case, Falcon 9 will likely be in the process of winding down it's launches.

One other thought - Why would ESA invite a direct competitor to their Ariane 6 rocket? A F9 with a mission profile anticipating it's reuse is somewhat more powerful than the Ariane 62 while an expended F9 is capable of payloads comparable to Ariane 64.

The Soyuz fit between the Ariane 5 and Vega rockets in terms of capabilities so it was a decent match. Even before the events of this year leading to the Soyuz at Guiana Space Centre program being cancelled there were plans to improve the Vega rocket to the point it could replace the Soyuz.

Offline alugobi

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Re: SpaceX at the Guiana Space Centre
« Reply #8 on: 10/30/2022 03:18 pm »
re: leaving money on the table...

If Ms. Shotwell thought it a good idea to go down there, they'd be doing it. 

They aren't.
« Last Edit: 10/30/2022 03:19 pm by alugobi »

Offline SpeakertoAnimals

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Re: SpaceX at the Guiana Space Centre
« Reply #9 on: 10/30/2022 03:31 pm »
re: leaving money on the table...

If Ms. Shotwell thought it a good idea to go down there, they'd be doing it. 

They aren't.
Agree, ESA doesn't want it, SpaceX doesn't want to spend the money on a program with little return for a vehicle they are trying to make obsolete.

Offline MP99

Re: SpaceX at the Guiana Space Centre
« Reply #10 on: 10/30/2022 05:04 pm »


I'm more curious if we will see ESA buy F9's like they did with Soyuz. I know SpaceX are a launch services provider, but if ESA came in and said: Here is $x million, we will build and maintain the facilities, perform the launches, etc, just provide us launch vehicles. Surely SpaceX wouldn't leave money on the table?
You concept is a little dated. The Falcon family of rockets is likely to be replaced by the Starship family a lot faster than most people expected.

That might be an argument in the other direction - SpaceX might be willing to allow someone else to use F9 once Starship is operational at scale.

SpaceX have ISS contracts through to 2028, so would help to support with operating costs once everything except ISS has moved to Starship?

Cheers, Martin


Offline woods170

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Re: SpaceX at the Guiana Space Centre
« Reply #11 on: 10/30/2022 07:29 pm »
With the likely permanent suspension of the ESA's "Soyuz at the Guiana Space Centre" program, and with Europe starting to buy space on Falcon 9 launches, I wondered what it would take for SpaceX to build a launch platform down there so they could benefit from the advantages of launching closer to the equator. I can imagine several problems with doing that, but I'd like to hear from actual experts, and I'd be interested to know if it's even been discussed.

I think the biggest problem would probably be that Arianespace wouldn't want to give SpaceX any more of an advantage than they already have. A second problem might be that the US government could object to having that kind of technology outside the country.  It's also possible that it's too much work for too little benefit from SpaceX's point of view.

Truthfully, I'm amazed the ESA was willing to let the Russians use their spaceport, but given that they did, I think it does open up the question why SpaceX couldn't do the same.



SpaceX and Falcon 9 at GSC is a non-starter for this very simple reason: no joint-venture exists between ArianeGroup and SpaceX.

Soyuz at CSG was the direct result of the "Starsem" joint-venture between ArianeGroup, Arianespace, Roscosmos and TsSKB-Progress.

Such a joint-venture between ArianeGroup (the parent company of ArianeSpace) and SpaceX is highly unlikely given that they are the fiercest of competitors.

Also: ESA did not allow the Russians access to the CSG. It was CNES that did that. Which is not so strange given that CSG is not ESA's spaceport, but owned by CNES. ESA just happens to be the biggest user of CSG. But they don't own CSG.

Offline Hamish.Student

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Re: SpaceX at the Guiana Space Centre
« Reply #12 on: 10/31/2022 04:23 am »
With the likely permanent suspension of the ESA's "Soyuz at the Guiana Space Centre" program, and with Europe starting to buy space on Falcon 9 launches, I wondered what it would take for SpaceX to build a launch platform down there so they could benefit from the advantages of launching closer to the equator. I can imagine several problems with doing that, but I'd like to hear from actual experts, and I'd be interested to know if it's even been discussed.

I think the biggest problem would probably be that Arianespace wouldn't want to give SpaceX any more of an advantage than they already have. A second problem might be that the US government could object to having that kind of technology outside the country.  It's also possible that it's too much work for too little benefit from SpaceX's point of view.

Truthfully, I'm amazed the ESA was willing to let the Russians use their spaceport, but given that they did, I think it does open up the question why SpaceX couldn't do the same.



SpaceX and Falcon 9 at GSC is a non-starter for this very simple reason: no joint-venture exists between ArianeGroup and SpaceX.

Soyuz at CSG was the direct result of the "Starsem" joint-venture between ArianeGroup, Arianespace, Roscosmos and TsSKB-Progress.

Such a joint-venture between ArianeGroup (the parent company of ArianeSpace) and SpaceX is highly unlikely given that they are the fiercest of competitors.

Also: ESA did not allow the Russians access to the CSG. It was CNES that did that. Which is not so strange given that CSG is not ESA's spaceport, but owned by CNES. ESA just happens to be the biggest user of CSG. But they don't own CSG.
 
 
A while ago some would say that about ESA launching on SpaceX.

Offline Alvian@IDN

Re: SpaceX at the Guiana Space Centre
« Reply #13 on: 10/31/2022 05:51 am »
With the likely permanent suspension of the ESA's "Soyuz at the Guiana Space Centre" program, and with Europe starting to buy space on Falcon 9 launches, I wondered what it would take for SpaceX to build a launch platform down there so they could benefit from the advantages of launching closer to the equator. I can imagine several problems with doing that, but I'd like to hear from actual experts, and I'd be interested to know if it's even been discussed.

I think the biggest problem would probably be that Arianespace wouldn't want to give SpaceX any more of an advantage than they already have. A second problem might be that the US government could object to having that kind of technology outside the country.  It's also possible that it's too much work for too little benefit from SpaceX's point of view.

Truthfully, I'm amazed the ESA was willing to let the Russians use their spaceport, but given that they did, I think it does open up the question why SpaceX couldn't do the same.



SpaceX and Falcon 9 at GSC is a non-starter for this very simple reason: no joint-venture exists between ArianeGroup and SpaceX.

Soyuz at CSG was the direct result of the "Starsem" joint-venture between ArianeGroup, Arianespace, Roscosmos and TsSKB-Progress.

Such a joint-venture between ArianeGroup (the parent company of ArianeSpace) and SpaceX is highly unlikely given that they are the fiercest of competitors.

Also: ESA did not allow the Russians access to the CSG. It was CNES that did that. Which is not so strange given that CSG is not ESA's spaceport, but owned by CNES. ESA just happens to be the biggest user of CSG. But they don't own CSG.
 
 
A while ago some would say that about ESA launching on SpaceX.
ESA here is merely purchased SpaceX ride/service, gigantic difference with "joint-venture" & operating a retired-in-2030s Falcon 9 in different country
« Last Edit: 10/31/2022 05:52 am by Alvian@IDN »
My parents was just being born when the Apollo program is over. Why we are still stuck in this stagnation, let's go forward again

Offline woods170

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Re: SpaceX at the Guiana Space Centre
« Reply #14 on: 10/31/2022 09:31 am »
With the likely permanent suspension of the ESA's "Soyuz at the Guiana Space Centre" program, and with Europe starting to buy space on Falcon 9 launches, I wondered what it would take for SpaceX to build a launch platform down there so they could benefit from the advantages of launching closer to the equator. I can imagine several problems with doing that, but I'd like to hear from actual experts, and I'd be interested to know if it's even been discussed.

I think the biggest problem would probably be that Arianespace wouldn't want to give SpaceX any more of an advantage than they already have. A second problem might be that the US government could object to having that kind of technology outside the country.  It's also possible that it's too much work for too little benefit from SpaceX's point of view.

Truthfully, I'm amazed the ESA was willing to let the Russians use their spaceport, but given that they did, I think it does open up the question why SpaceX couldn't do the same.



SpaceX and Falcon 9 at GSC is a non-starter for this very simple reason: no joint-venture exists between ArianeGroup and SpaceX.

Soyuz at CSG was the direct result of the "Starsem" joint-venture between ArianeGroup, Arianespace, Roscosmos and TsSKB-Progress.

Such a joint-venture between ArianeGroup (the parent company of ArianeSpace) and SpaceX is highly unlikely given that they are the fiercest of competitors.

Also: ESA did not allow the Russians access to the CSG. It was CNES that did that. Which is not so strange given that CSG is not ESA's spaceport, but owned by CNES. ESA just happens to be the biggest user of CSG. But they don't own CSG.
 
 
A while ago some would say that about ESA launching on SpaceX.
ESA here is merely purchased SpaceX ride/service, gigantic difference with "joint-venture" & operating a retired-in-2030s Falcon 9 in different country

Exactly. ESA is the client. It buys (and has bought) rides on rockets provided by ULA, Arianespace, SpaceX, Roscosmos, JAXA and ISRO.
People assuming that ESA payloads flying on Falcon 9 must somehow be a bad thing for ESA, really have not bothered to look at ESA history.
Ariane exists to give Europe an independent means of access to space. It does NOT however mean that every European payload must fly on Ariane, regardless of what the ArianeGroup CEO tries to convince everyone of.

Soyuz at CSG was not initiated by ESA, but by the Starsem joint venture and CNES. They saw an opportunity to boost performance (and sales!) of Soyuz by having it launch from CSG near the equator. But, they needed additional funding to get the idea realized. So, they went to ESA to try to sell the idea. And that worked. ESA agreed to adopt the project and generally manage the program, because ESA saw opportunities too: cheap launches from CSG on the very reliable Soyuz launch vehicle. It is what we would call a win-win situation.
ESA/CNES paid for and managed the construction of the ELS launch pad. Arianespace/Starsem were responsible for adapting the Soyuz launcher to CSG circumstances and specific ESA demands.

This arrangement is actually not all that different from how Ariane is developed: ESA and CNES take care of overall project management and make sure the launch pad is constructed. ArianeGroup and ArianeSpace develop, build and operate the actual Ariane launchers. There is profit in this arrangement for all sides: ArianeGroup gets to sell launchers and ESA gets to have independent access to space on a launcher tailored to their primary requirements. And CNES has more business for its spaceport.

Falcon 9 and SpaceX at CSG would see a lot less of this synergy IMO.
First of all: ESA and CNES would want to do overall program management. And that is unlikely to happen because it would mean that SpaceX would become hostage to the whims, and more importantly: extended time frames, of European managers. I don't see Elon Musk or Gwynne Shotwell agreeing to that. SpaceX is successful because it is hyper agile and operates at lightning speed. ESA, CNES and their contractors are neither of those. So, I see this as the most important factor why Falcon 9 at CSG will never happen.

Second:  ESA and particularly CNES would want overall responsibility for the construction of the F9 launch pad. No infrastructure projects happen at CSG unless CNES has explicitly approved them. After all: they own CSG and they want overall control over each infrastructure project happening there.
But ESA/CNES building the F9 launch pad will be met by resistance from both SpaceX AND ArianeSpace. The former will want to keep launch pad construction in-house (like they do with all of their launch pads) for obvious reasons (IP and schedule) and the latter will raise a stink about its biggest competitor getting a launch pad constructed with ESA money, while ArianeSpace exists to provide independent access to space for that very same ESA.
With no support from ArianeGroup/ArianeSpace it is likely CNES will not be too willing either, given their historical and financial ties. And influence of CNES and ArianeGroup will likely see the Ministerial block any attempt to spend ESA funding on building a launch pad at CSG for a competing U.S. launch provider (to be clear: Russia is considered by most ESA member states to be part of Europe. Soyuz is therefore not viewed as a competing launcher, particularly not given the existence of the Starsem joint venture).

Third: it is unlikely that SpaceX would be willing to modify the F9 for CSG circumstances IMO. The one thing SpaceX always strives for is standardization, primarily to reduce cost. It is why they were reluctant to make a larger fairing or do Vertical Integration of payloads, until both DoD and NASA came up with a crapload of money to make it so. SpaceX adapting F9 for CSG circumstances will result in a rather hefty bill to ESA and CNES, which neither organization is very willing to pay, given the fact that they already have access to two launchers tailored to their very requirements: Ariane and Vega. A big driver behind flying F9 from CSG would be having access to a cheap launcher. And that is exactly what F9 will not be if SpaceX has to fly by the rules set by ESA and CNES. There is also no financial gain for SpaceX: performance of F9 is already so good that there is no real advantage in having it fly from near the equator as well. Once Starship comes online operationally any existing limits on F9 performance become completely moot.

And fourth: ITAR. To get Falcon 9 flying from CSG will unavoidably mean releasing (=exporting) ITAR-controlled information and technology to ESA, CNES and its European contractors. One would say that THAT would be no problem given that most (if not all) ESA member states are USA allies. But such thinking overlooks the fact that ESA and CNES and their contractors have strong ties to both Russia and China as well. Who's to say that ITAR-ed and IP-ed information about SpaceX and Falcon 9 does not end up in the hands of unwanted elements in Russia and China, via ESA and/or CNES?
« Last Edit: 10/31/2022 09:38 am by woods170 »

Online Greg Hullender

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Re: SpaceX at the Guiana Space Centre
« Reply #15 on: 10/31/2022 01:33 pm »
Russia is considered by most ESA member states to be part of Europe. Soyuz is therefore not viewed as a competing launcher
This is a very compelling argument that I had not considered at all, but it makes perfect sense when I think about it. Europe has clearly tried hard to "bring Russia in" with a variety of things (like oil and gas pipelines). Obviously, this falls into the same category, but a venture with SpaceX would not.

I suppose we're still a long way from anyone offering an "international spaceport," which would serve launch vehicles from any country--much as an international airport serves aircraft from anywhere.

Offline woods170

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Re: SpaceX at the Guiana Space Centre
« Reply #16 on: 10/31/2022 05:54 pm »
Russia is considered by most ESA member states to be part of Europe. Soyuz is therefore not viewed as a competing launcher
This is a very compelling argument that I had not considered at all, but it makes perfect sense when I think about it. Europe has clearly tried hard to "bring Russia in" with a variety of things (like oil and gas pipelines). Obviously, this falls into the same category, but a venture with SpaceX would not.

I suppose we're still a long way from anyone offering an "international spaceport," which would serve launch vehicles from any country--much as an international airport serves aircraft from anywhere.

International spaceports won't come into existence until standard launch pads and standard launch pad interfaces are developed and accepted by the majority of launch service providers. Right now every single constructor of rockets invents its own interfaces, connections, etc, etc, etc. It is all tailor made, unlike international airports where all interfaces, connections, procedures etc, etc, etc. are standardized world wide.

Offline 1

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Re: SpaceX at the Guiana Space Centre
« Reply #17 on: 10/31/2022 07:13 pm »
Who's to say that ITAR-ed and IP-ed information about SpaceX and Falcon 9 does not end up in the hands of unwanted elements in Russia and China, via ESA and/or CNES?

A bit off topic, but the answer to this would be the ESA and CNES. One of the requirements for an ITAR-controlled export is that the receiving party must agree not to re-export or re-transfer the data. So if ESA or CNES were to leak data outside of their respective entities, ESA/CNES would be accountable for that. ITAR restrictions don't end at the US border. Practically speaking, this is one of the reasons why so many foreign entities avoid ITAR like the plague. 

Put me in the 'never gonna happen' bin regarding SpaceX lauching at Guiana.

Offline edkyle99

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Re: SpaceX at the Guiana Space Centre
« Reply #18 on: 10/31/2022 08:50 pm »
I wonder how much mass a Falcon 9 could lift to GTO in first stage recovery mode from Kourou.  Six tonnes?  More?  It can do 5.5 tonnes from the Cape.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 10/31/2022 08:51 pm by edkyle99 »

Offline Asteroza

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Re: SpaceX at the Guiana Space Centre
« Reply #19 on: 11/01/2022 01:25 am »
Russia is considered by most ESA member states to be part of Europe. Soyuz is therefore not viewed as a competing launcher
This is a very compelling argument that I had not considered at all, but it makes perfect sense when I think about it. Europe has clearly tried hard to "bring Russia in" with a variety of things (like oil and gas pipelines). Obviously, this falls into the same category, but a venture with SpaceX would not.

I suppose we're still a long way from anyone offering an "international spaceport," which would serve launch vehicles from any country--much as an international airport serves aircraft from anywhere.

Al Cantara in Brazil seems more attractive. They have an ITAR agreement in place, the location is decent, and the brazilians would love the local investment to turn the spaceport into an international gateway.

Tags: SpaceX Guiana Ariane ESA 
 

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