Author Topic: Ariane 6 Discussion Thread: Place Your Ariane 6 Discussions Here.  (Read 572344 times)

Offline Johnnyhinbos

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The head of ESA suggests the upcoming Vega C and Ariane 6 may not be competitive in the global launch market: “it is essential that we now discuss future solutions, including disruptive ideas.”
Source

Original source.

Sounds familiar.
He's being kind in saying 'may not be'...

Folks are just reacting to the concept of reusable rockets -- they haven't even started flying yet, because these few (7-8 cores) are still R&D.  Block 5, if it lives up to any of its design(it will), will wipe out any 'may be' in these statements.

Time to get started -- falling further behind every day.
+1 for proper use of “further” instead of “farther”.
John Hanzl. Author, action / adventure www.johnhanzl.com

Offline Rik ISS-fan

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I think Jan Woerner's blog post backs the current launchers program from ESA (and the EU).
some snipet and my comments:

Quote
ESA ministers decided in 2014 to develop a new launcher family comprising Ariane 6 and Vega C, based on the existing Ariane 5 and Vega. The promise to secure autonomous access to space and reduce the price by a factor of 2 proved sufficiently compelling to secure ESA member states’ agreement to finance the development.
Multiple times I've written here; that during the 2012 ministerial the path to a Ariane 6 with new liquid engines was blocked. So already in 2012 it became clear that the Ariane 6 could use the same technologies as Ariane 5 and Vega. In my opinion Ariane 62; 64 and Vega-C are very good launcher designs using the available engines.

Quote
At that time, I succeeded in placing environmental concerns and the possible development of reusability among the high-level requirements:
- Maintain and ensure European launcher competence with a long-term perspective, including possibility of reusability/fly-back.
- Ensure possibility to deorbit upper stage directly
Due to time and cost pressure, however, these aspects did not make it onto the agenda for Ariane 6 and Vega C.
I think the reusability and Fly-back are referring to Prometheus and Callisto.
AFAIK because AVUM and ULPM are restartable, the Vega and Ariane 6 will be able to deorbit the upperstages directly.

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With Vega C, Ariane 62 and Ariane 64 approaching completion, it seems logical to complete these launchers in order to at least take that major step towards competitiveness.
This is followed by:
Quote
At the same time, it is essential that we now discuss future solutions, including disruptive ideas. Simply following the kind of approaches seen so far would be expensive and ultimately will fail to convince. Totally new ideas are needed and Europe must now prove it still possesses that traditional strength to surpass itself and break out beyond existing borders.
I think this refers to the FLPP NEO and Horizon 2020 SMILE; Altair and the EIC Pilot.

There are already improvements for Vega in planning stage:
- The SSMS rideshare launch adapter is in development for Vega(-C/-E). Most likely ESA/Arianegroup will also develop rideshare options for Ariane 6.
- The Vega-E with the VUS upper-stage with the LOx Methane engine replacing the Z9A and AVUM+.
- Also part of Vega-E is the VEnUS solar electric (ion-thrusters) in orbit stage.
- SpaceRider the follow-on of IXV to develop a multiple times usable space test vehicle that can be launched with Vega-C. It can also launch on a Ariane 62.

Personally I think Vega will be phased out in the not to distant future. Most likely this will coincide with the Vega-E introduction around 2025. (Yes, that is the distant future, in space industry terms)
My opinion is that the Ariane 6 launchers are the not the category to do re-usability experiments with. The micro or small launchers are far beter for this.
Currently the lightest launcher developed and build in Europe is the Vega. ESA and the EU have made it a priority to develop smaller orbital launchers. I think it's also important to develop new sounding rockets. Currently all sounding rockets use surplus air-defense missiles or rocket motors imported from Brazil or the USA.
It's also a priority to develop alternatives to be able to phase out hydrazine, and other toxic fuels.

For solids; I think it's a national strategic decision if and which (sub-)orbital launcher should use solids. For the coming years P120C motors are going to be very cheap for their capability.
« Last Edit: 02/12/2018 10:21 AM by Rik ISS-fan »

Offline jpo234

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In my opinion Ariane 62; 64 and Vega-C are very good launcher designs using the available engines.

Ariane 6 was conceived as the response to the expendable Falcon 9 of 2013/2014. But, to quote Woerner, "in the meantime, the world has moved on".

Falcon 9 Block 5 will launch this year. New Glenn will, if things stay on track, launch in 2020. Musk says that BFR development is progressing quickly and might launch in the same time frame.

These are the competitors that Ariane 6 will face in the early 2020s. And, as somebody wrote, if SpaceX achieves it's targets with BFR, a 150t launch will cost less than an Ariane 6 SRB (how much SpaceX charges their customers is a different question). This is the challenge and Ariane 6 is not the answer.
« Last Edit: 02/12/2018 11:49 AM by jpo234 »
You want to be inspired by things. You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great. That's what being a spacefaring civilization is all about. It's about believing in the future and believing the future will be better than the past. And I can't think of anything more exciting than being out there among the stars.

Offline floss

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Depends upon what market Space x focus upon . The worlds largest is US military not commercial  and there is plenty of satellites that will never fly upon a US launcher owing to US foreign policies misadventures . 

Besides which is the orbital market big enough to support Space x ? or will they become a PAN AM of the aerospace world .
« Last Edit: 02/13/2018 04:31 PM by floss »

Offline Archibald

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Quote
the technology for reusable (inexpensive/no refurbishment) engines and recovering boosters didn't exist before SpaceX started down this path

It actually existed. Grid fins have been around since the 60's on Soviet AAMs like the R-27, or even earlier: Soyuz escape tower use them !

Saturn H-1 or Soyuz engines were / are dirt cheap. What was expensive was SSME high performance and unabated love for LH2.

As for landing a rocket on its tail - hard to guess if such a trick could have been pulled out earlier. What is sure is, it was not -  because of all that love for wings and piloted spacecrafts. But that isn't a technical issue.

On technical grounds, the  main roadblock was probably computing power and landing accuracy.

Someday on the historical section of this board, I'll ask, just for the fun of it "How early could have Falcon 9 flyback boosters happened ?"

Oh, and by the way, I've french newspaper La Tribune quoted (a while back) Well it is not a credible source, they know next to zero about aerospace.

That's the newspaper that for a decade, claimed, again and again, that France had sold Rafales combat jets to its first export customer, only to be tersely rebuked the next day by either Dassault or the French government.
 That was of course before the Rafale managed its real breakthrough in the UAE and India...
« Last Edit: 02/13/2018 01:33 PM by Archibald »
...you have been found guilty by the elders of the forum of a (imaginary) vendetta against Saint Elon - BLAAASPHEMER !

Online AncientU

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To those very critical of Ariane 6  and the way forward... What would you do? Say as the head of Esa or Arianegroup.

Starting with today, that is, not going back years and the drawing up alternate history

Here's your direct answer.  (Maybe he's a lurker here.)
Quote
...
Maintain and ensure European launcher competence (comment: does this mean competitiveness?) with a long-term perspective, including possibility of reusability/fly-back.
...

Due to time and cost pressure, however, these aspects did not make it onto the agenda for Ariane 6 and Vega C. Yet in the meantime, the world has moved on and today’s situation requires that we re-assess the situation and identify the possible consequences. In many discussions on the political level, the strategic goal of securing European autonomous access to space has not changed, however there is a growing sense that pressure from global competition is something that needs to be addressed. With Vega C, Ariane 62 and Ariane 64 approaching completion, it seems logical to complete these launchers in order to at least take that major step towards competitiveness. At the same time, it is essential that we now discuss future solutions, including disruptive ideas.

Which is exactly what we've been saying...

Not that A-6 will be fine, and we should reassess where we are in 2025.

...
Only time will tell who judged the potential or re-usability right, and if Ariane 6 was enough.
...

« Last Edit: 02/13/2018 11:20 PM by AncientU »
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Offline Chasm

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The (not actually that) snarky argument is that the point of no return of A6 has been passed while ago and now Falcon Heavy finally launched. That made it easier for the ESA leadership to change the tune. Before that the political price was much higher.

Now kick engine development into high gear. No reuse without that.
Work harder on small propulsive landing demonstrators. The software does not write itself.
Don't forget Space Rider, reentry technologies play a big role in the future.

With the recent small launcher awards take a look at the goals for a next phase (if any). Seems a bit all over the place to me. It's ok to shotgun initial studies but what comes after that?

Online AncientU

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The (not actually that) snarky argument is that the point of no return of A6 has been passed while ago and now Falcon Heavy finally launched. That made it easier for the ESA leadership to change the tune. Before that the political price was much higher.

Now kick engine development into high gear. No reuse without that.
Work harder on small propulsive landing demonstrators. The software does not write itself.
Don't forget Space Rider, reentry technologies play a big role in the future.

With the recent small launcher awards take a look at the goals for a next phase (if any). Seems a bit all over the place to me. It's ok to shotgun initial studies but what comes after that?

I would immediately start designing the reusable vehicle powered by a set of maybe seven of the new methlox engines, and plan to have it ready to start testing when the engines are ready in 2020.  May have to adjust the tank lengths a bit, but that's relatively easy. 

Use the sub-scale demos to get the software right -- before 2020 -- just like Grasshopper was a software test bed for Falcon.

Run the development programs in parallel, not series, is the key.  The competition isn't breaking stride...
« Last Edit: 02/14/2018 09:40 PM by AncientU »
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Online AncientU

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Blog redo compelled by 'the establishment':
Quote
ESA's director general urges his colleagues to pull their heads out of the sand, gets kicked by ostriches.
https://twitter.com/SciGuySpace/status/964210514921365504

New blog post:
Quote
This is the first time I have found myself adding a second part to one of my blog posts, and only a few days after publication at that. The reason is simple: the reaction generated and occasional misinterpretation require that I express myself on the subject once again in the clearest terms.

Quote
We will complete the Ariane 6 / Vega C family, ...
In parallel, we will think about further enhancements as well as turning our minds to systems still far off in the future, which today may seem more vision than reality. My fervent hope is that the spirit for such an approach still exists in Europe and that it is part of our responsibility to be completely transparent where taxpayers’ money is involved.
http://blogs.esa.int/janwoerner/2018/02/15/europes-move-part-2/
« Last Edit: 02/15/2018 11:00 PM by AncientU »
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Offline calapine

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"Blog redo compelled by 'the establishment':"
  ::)  ::)

Edit: It's also worth to quote in full:

Quote
This is the first time I have found myself adding a second part to one of my blog posts, and only a few days after publication at that. The reason is simple: the reaction generated and occasional misinterpretation require that I express myself on the subject once again in the clearest terms.

Looking back to when I was Head of the German Delegation to ESA, when we developed the so-called High-Level Requirements. At that time, it was obvious that we should develop a cheaper launcher in order to remain in the commercial market while securing the strategic goal of European autonomous access to space. Based on those High-Level Requirements, industry proposed a launcher family consisting of at least three launchers: Ariane 64, Ariane 62 and Vega C. By introducing commonalities between the different launchers, by changing the governance and by introducing new production technologies and processes the goal was achievable to significantly reduce costs and at the same time have the new system ready in a rather short period of time.

The decision of ESA’s Member States to implement this proposal was the right choice.

Consequently, ESA is completely committed, together with its industrial partners, to doing its utmost to achieve the goals we have set for ourselves.

These points were made clear in Part 1 of “Europe’s move”. However, some people chose to interpret my words in such a way as to suggest that I see the launcher family as currently defined as the wrong solution. My call to look to the future and find disruptive solutions cannot come as a surprise coming from the Director General of ESA, an organisation which was founded to develop Europe in space. It would be irresponsible for me to announce that the current family will remain as is for all time. This is exactly what the Ministers asked for in 2014:

Maintain and ensure European launcher competence with a long-term perspective, including possibility of reusability/fly-back.

We will complete the Ariane 6 / Vega C family, fulfilling the demands of satellite providers, launch service customers and the European public for affordable and reliable launchers while at the same time securing for Europe autonomous access to space. In parallel, we will think about further enhancements as well as turning our minds to systems still far off in the future, which today may seem more vision than reality. My fervent hope is that the spirit for such an approach still exists in Europe and that it is part of our responsibility to be completely transparent where taxpayers’ money is involved.
« Last Edit: 02/16/2018 12:20 AM by calapine »

Offline Chasm

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I think the important part is "We will complete the Ariane 6 / Vega C family, fulfilling [...]".
The money spent A6x is GONE. Not completing it does not save money. You'd have to go back at least 2 years to make any impact with such cuts. Spending even more money on A5 in attempts to cut a little cost does not really help either.

Get A6 and Vega C done and then follow up ASAP with changes.
(I said upthread to cut A5 as fast as possible for A6, that seems to have happened. :P )

Offline Chasm

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I would immediately start designing the reusable vehicle powered by a set of maybe seven of the new methlox engines, and plan to have it ready to start testing when the engines are ready in 2020.  May have to adjust the tank lengths a bit, but that's relatively easy. 

Use the sub-scale demos to get the software right -- before 2020 -- just like Grasshopper was a software test bed for Falcon.

Run the development programs in parallel, not series, is the key.  The competition isn't breaking stride...

Not wrong but a bit big for my taste. Almost F9 ish. Crashing a bunch of them gets expensive.
Looking at what little I can find Prometheus has 300kN minimum throttle and no mention of restart. A bit high. I still like hover, at least to experiment. I guess adding lead is a choice. ;)

My idea is a bit more nuts. Another Antares. OATK style rocket lego.
Take Vega-C, replace P120C with a reusable methalox stage. It happens to be small enough and staging slow enough.
There is always the discussion about the importance of solids for military users. Z40C happens to be slightly larger than SLBM sized, that has to be good enough. Changing the Vega-C upper stages down the road is still possible.
For cheap space launch I'd offer SLBM disposal. The current French M51 SLBM happens to be -roughly- Z40C sized. The older M45 is smaller, roughly Z23 sized, but should be available in numbers. Call that current Vega performance. (What a coincidence that the diameters are within a few cm.)

Vega is staging the P80 at ~1.8km/s. That should be doable. I don't have Vega-C numbers at hand but they should be similar. If not eat the performance difference or compensate with a larger Vega-E upper stage down the road.
A thrust diagram for the initial P120C had 4250kN max, 2774kN average. 133 seconds, 370MN*sec total impulse. AVIO lists the current P120C as 4500kN average which seems unusually high for just another 20t of propellant.
So 3 stock Prometheus and 1 modded for lower minimal thrust and restart?

That turns out to be roughly half the engine power of a F9 stage. Roughly half the upper stage mass too. (On the order of 53t for Z40C, Z9, AVUM-C& fairing.) Interesting(tm).


Once recovery works reliably start to replace the A6 solids. Easier if it was possible to keep the length close. Ariane 5 stages solids at ~2km/s, no idea where A6 will be but again likely to be similar.

A lot of parts to recover but why not rise to the challenge. That part is supposed to be automated after all. :)

Online AncientU

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...
Crashing a bunch of them gets expensive.
...

Expendables ALL crash.
Use that given, and build reuse as a test-after-payload-delivery bonus.
This is the part of F9 development that everyone can get for free (or at least minimal cost).
Running a complete development program like a science experiment is expensive and time consuming, which is expensive.
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Online AncientU

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I think the important part is "We will complete the Ariane 6 / Vega C family, fulfilling [...]".
...

 think the important part is the bottom line sentence:
Quote
My fervent hope is that the spirit for such an approach still exists in Europe and that it is part of our responsibility to be completely transparent where taxpayers’ money is involved.

Both parts are in play here.
1. Spirit and heart for competition
2. Accountability for monies spent
Easy for governments to lose both... as we're well aware on this side of the pond.
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Offline Chasm

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That sentence is also important, but not what made him write the clarification in the first place. :)

It is not an enviable position to be in. The show must go on. Politicians must be kept happy. The changes underway for A6 have to happen, they are required for future projects.  And yet everyone in the business with two brain cells to rub together knows that change is not coming, change is here.


I like replacing P120C for three reasons. Solids have to go, the sooner the better. The staging speed is just about right, even slow. No need to develop upper stages at the same time, keeping all focus on the important bit - getting the first stage back.
I also love the very unlikely idea of a fast paced development. Faster than payloads are willing to book on new launchers.
The required performance is well known. Size the new stage for RTLS. Build it and stat launching mass simulators(*) into the ocean.
Once launch itself works -no RUDs allowed- put the existing upper stages on top and search for payloads. Preferably replaceable ones to begin with. Not a lack of confidence but keeping expectations low. I think you have to actively treat this as an experimental system or the ability to make changes will go away.
In the meantime send some more mass simulators to the fishes and make landing reliable. Ships, RTLS, perhaps even moving ships.

This will take while. Once the system works ESA will know where to pivot next. Changes to A6? A new launcher? There are many options.

*: A water tank topped of with a detachable reentry capsule. With about twice the staging speed of New Shepard lets do some micro gravity experiments without having to pay Blue Origin for it. Reserve that for stuff that need fast recovery or manual interaction.
Learning how to operate and recover capsules is worthwhile in itself. ESA is always very much about new technology and abilities. Given the excess performance (~55t of total ballast required) it can be quite the battleship capsule.
« Last Edit: 02/16/2018 05:07 PM by Chasm »

Offline pietro

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This was my comment on Mr. Wöener's blog:

Complete the current developments, but start developing a 100% reusable solution right now, based on SpaceX experience: a BFR class system using the same technology (methalox engines, propulsive vertical landing, carbon-fiber tanks). It is a very versatile solution that can competitively cover the whole launch market (probably with the exception of very small payloads <500kg) at very low cost, including future markets (solar system/planetary exploration and colonization, space resource extraction, space manufacturing, space hotels, micro-gravity research, etc.). At the moment this is the best technical solution so doing anything else is irresponsible (unless there are some new breakthrough inventions) – and *every* European citizen knows this who has any interest in space.

SpaceX took <5 years to develop Raptor for <$1B, so this should be doable roughly within the same timeframe. There are some hard decisions to make: there must be a new innovation and manufacturing infrastructure that is optimized for efficiency (for political reasons development cost is probably "non-optimizable").

Within 10 years space will start to be industrialized and real, mass volume cheap access (vs taxpayer-sponsored "looks-like" cheap access) will be a must. If Europe does not have a competitive solution by then (sooner is better) then the next industrial revolution and colonization will happen without us.

Edit: Of course ESA/Europe and SpaceX could cooperate by SpaceX focusing on launch and Europe developing interesting payloads (Moon village anyone?), but there is the guaranteed access angle.
« Last Edit: 02/16/2018 06:01 PM by pietro »

Offline TrevorMonty

How SpaceX and Blue do reuseability is just one way of doing it. Doesn't mean it is best way. Copying competitors methods means always playing catch up as they will  be one generation of LV a head.


Offline pietro

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How SpaceX and Blue do reuseability is just one way of doing it. Doesn't mean it is best way. Copying competitors methods means always playing catch up as they will  be one generation of LV a head.

Probably there is a better way, but BFR is still much better than the ESA is maybe-planning to do. So please ESA do copy (and who knows - they can come up with some better solutions in materials/etc. that would make their version better). If they started now they could almost catch up with a <5 year lag (i.e. they could fly in 10 years or less -- oh, I'm an optimist:).

BFR will be < $100/kg to LEO when in full production - Blue will have an answer for that, but no one else. ESA must have an answer (or I'll have to foot the bill of >$5,000/kg launches as an EU taxpayer).

Edit: spelling
« Last Edit: 02/16/2018 10:50 PM by pietro »

Online AncientU

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How SpaceX and Blue do reuseability is just one way of doing it. Doesn't mean it is best way. Copying competitors methods means always playing catch up as they will  be one generation of LV a head.

I'm all for innovative solutions that improve on proven methods. 
Not doing anything is how to get two generations (Falcon + BFR) behind.

The suggestion of going with a BFR-sized vehicle may be a step too far... possibly applying similar approach (methlox, carbon fiber, autogenous pressurization, reusable of course) to a 5-7m diameter vehicle could produce a versatile booster core with lots of upper stage options.
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Offline gosnold

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The head of Arianegroup was heard by the French parliament recently:
 
http://videos.assemblee-nationale.fr/video.5584573_5a8c43be8d358.commission-de-la-defense--m-alain-charmeau-president-d-ariane-group-20-fevrier-2018

It's in French, but there is interesting stuff about Ariane 6 and future launchers. For instance, he admits that there was not enough investment in launcher technologies between 2004 and 2014, and that was a mistake.

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