Author Topic: Ariane 6 Discussion Thread: Place Your Ariane 6 Discussions Here.  (Read 484367 times)

Offline TrevorMonty

There a few 1000kg LVs undevelopment eg Firefly Alpha. While smaller than Vega they are close enough in performance to compete directly with Vega for lot payloads. Especially if cost per kg is lot lower.

Offline Chasm

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Me oversimplifying? Not just outright wrong?  ;D

So what is my answer.
Decide on goals, then work to archive them.
Identify blockers early, prioritize them.

It has been said a few times and I concur, the biggest blocker right now is engines. Can't have a reuseable stage with the current ones. So what makes development hard? Not enough rocket scientists? Not enough test stand time? What changes once Vulcain 2.1 and Vinci are qualified? Has DLR Lampoldshausen enough capacity or will permitting / environmental concerns draw the required testing out? And so on and so forth.
I'd love to says let's just build a new rocket test center. Somewhere with a lot of nothing around it. Somewhere where you can make a lot of noise all day any day and where debris from an Oops can not hit anything other than your own stuff.
Doing so costs money and more importantly time. And will there be any work for it in the future? Not so simple...


Things like geo return are a distraction but can be worked around. In the meantime they keep the money coming in.
And it is all about money. Just like Boeing and Lockheed Martin in the USA Airbus and Safran have plenty money to fund their own reuseable launcher program. No geo return required there. Full commercial control. All of the good stuff mentioned upthread. If they just wanted to. Not that it is going to happen, free money is easier.


Which brings me to the next point. COTS for what?
If COTS as in "If you have the best offer, worldwide, chances are we may buy launches from you." perhaps. Don't forget that at the moment there is no rule forcing European payloads on European launchers. There are zero guarantees that institutional users will buy even a single  A62 (or A64 or Vega) launch more than currently contracted for. Chances are they will and rules might change, but that is not the same as the situation in the US.

There are not that many space companies either. The whole launcher sector is already working on Ariane or Vega with little duplication. Yes there are the sounding rockets and also a few small launcher projects but this has to be much larger to work out in the end. Will there be new companies looking great on paper? Absolutely! The mighty Vector rocket. Ooops, that is already a thing...

I tried to convey it earlier but one of the things I'd like to avoid is duplication of efforts. There are already products and companies, why concentrate them any further by brute force?
Giving *all* of Ariane 6 to one company does not really help.
Who owns the IP to all the various components that make up a rocket? AFAIK for the most part the companies that developed parts. Even if ESA had the IP to every part reinventing and requalifying the actual production methods and tooling is not cheap.

I think it is more important to find a way to force innovation into existing systems. If a company makes a better widget there should be a process to bump the encumbered supplier. The P120C winding process is an obvious example. More performance for less money.

Offline Chasm

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How about starting to sell something? Something tangible. ;)

I happen to like Space Rider.
What is the price of Vega-C? What would ESA have to pay for an A62 to A64 upgrade? Hold that thought.

Looks to me like most A62 launches are something that fits into the lower level of an A64. So convert A62 where possible into A64 and stick a Space Rider in the top slot. Than sell space on that. Bad for the Vega-C launch count but as I understand several of those companies are also working on Space Rider. Esp. since the first and oversimplified version would also need an AVUM.

The primary mission is the primary mission, so just launch into an easy to reach low orbit, Space Rider can do the rest. If a customer needs something more specific they can buy a Vega launch.
I really like the idea to launch the experimental platform every quarter or more. Both for economy of scale and the development of a reuseable reentry vehicle that actually works financially...


Rocket lego for such a Space Rider 2.0.
Green propellants are a must. Keep the ground handling on the airport as simple possible. The green stuff is no dietary supplement by any means but definitely not as nasty. And of course the upcoming Hydrazine ban that got talked about.
Price matters. Major points for a version that be launched without a fairing. Because you have to look cool these days. ;)
I'd really love a self contained version that brings the engines back. Less of that service module rubbish. Starting from Vega-C take Space Rider and AVUM, skip the fairing. Shove them into a single product using green propellants. Then do a few iterations on the design spiral. When launching on the upper slot of an institutional A64 launch, is there usually performance left? If so add volume to the payload bay but keep small enough that a solo launch on VEGA-C is still feasible.

Online AncientU

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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.
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
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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.

Quote
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 »
... that ackward moment when you realize that Jeff Bezos personal fortune is far above NASA annual budget... 115 billion to 18 billion...

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 »
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
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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 »
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
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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.
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
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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 »

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