Author Topic: High-Level Advisory Group on Human and Robotic Space Exploration for Europe  (Read 17608 times)

Offline hektor

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Online FutureSpaceTourist

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Report is attached.

https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/1638885958040043523

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The ongoing ESA Council meeting is presenting this report by an advisory group calling for "a European Commercial LEO Station, Cargo and Crew Capabilities for the Gateway and the Moon, and sustained presence on the lunar surface."

esamultimedia.esa.int/docs/corporate…

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Cedric O, former French Secretary of State for the Digital Sector who served on the advisory group: I'm not certain there will be a future revolution in space, but the Americans and Chinese are betting on it; huge problem if Europe is not part of it.

https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/1638890672450314241

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He notes the drop in Europe's share of the commercial launch market from ~50% a decade ago to "almost out of the market" today is not because the US is spending more money, but because of emergence of more efficient players, like SpaceX.

Online FutureSpaceTourist

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https://twitter.com/sciguyspace/status/1638884882528223234

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A high-level advisory group in Europe says the continent should not only develop its own human spaceflight system, but also study the possibility of an "independent" European human landing on the Moon within 10 years.

esamultimedia.esa.int/docs/corporate…

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I love the ambition, but here's a reality check. It took ESA and Ariane a decade to develop Ariane 6, which was an upgraded version of the Ariane 5 rocket. The continent needs much more urgency, and a tripling of ESA's budget, to land on the Moon, on its own, in the 2030s.

https://twitter.com/sciguyspace/status/1638886421418381312

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The high-level group is correct, however, that in order to compete in space in the 2020s and beyond ESA must act differently. Will this be politically possible? I don't know.

Offline hektor

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« Last Edit: 03/23/2023 12:27 pm by hektor »

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twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/1638890672450314241

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He notes the drop in Europe's share of the commercial launch market from ~50% a decade ago to "almost out of the market" today is not because the US is spending more money, but because of emergence of more efficient players, like SpaceX.

https://twitter.com/sciguyspace/status/1638893111693946880

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Exactly. It's nice to finally see someone in Europe acknowledging reality rather than complaining about "huge subsidies" for SpaceX. If you want to compete in launch today you need to empower commercial entrepreneurs, not shove more money toward Ariane.

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There were other Europeans noting this before.......

https://twitter.com/sciguyspace/status/1638894189554593793

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But I think it was rare to see these views surfaced during such public ESA meetings? Maybe I'm wrong about that.

Offline hektor

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The advantage is that when you are an outside expert like Cedric O with not any official function, you can be more candid.

This changes from the usual speech from Arianespace about the ugly subsidised SpaceX
« Last Edit: 03/23/2023 12:38 pm by hektor »

Offline hektor

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Online yg1968

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« Last Edit: 03/23/2023 04:11 pm by yg1968 »

Online yg1968

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Quote from: Josef Aschbacher
We had another very dense Council yesterday and today, with many constructive discussions and important proposals and decision-making. New and/or moving Directors, ESA transformation, agreement signatures, new HQ!😅

Get the recap below👇
https://esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Videos/2023/03/Media_information_session_from_ESA_s_315th_Council

https://twitter.com/AschbacherJosef/status/1638948828845064194
« Last Edit: 03/23/2023 04:09 pm by yg1968 »

Offline geza

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I am shocked by the emptiness of this grandstanding. As a European space fan, certainly I wish to see a more agile European space program. However, goals like "human Moon landing in 10 years" went out of fashion around half a century ago. This would be the revolutionary goal for Europe to lead? Is it the European goal to "independently" replicate the earlier Chinese success in replicating the Soviet success decades before to reach orbit with a space capsule?

Is it a goal for European launch industry to regain cost competitiveness? It would be a pretty difficult goal. But they mention no such thing. It this is note a European goal, then "independent" access will be simply disadvantaged access. Maybe, a better attitude would be to accept that space access will be available on the cheap and concentrate on utilization of this service.

Developing large constellations of space telescopes? European base on Mars, achievements of which goes beyond the mere existence?

Online yg1968

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The competitiveness of ESA’s Geo-return policy:
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/competitiveness-esas-geo-return-policy-josef-aschbacher/

Quote from: Josef Aschbacher
To enhance compatibility between geo-return and competition, the policy of geo-return should increasingly shift towards a ‘fair contribution’ principle, that is to adjust the contribution of each Member State according to the outcome of the industrial competitions and to the actual share gained by its industry in these competitions. Several ESA programmes, especially in close-to-market sectors such as telecommunications, are already built in this manner.

Aschbacher specifically mentioned his recent article during the press conference. The idea of applying competition (e.g., by using public-private partnerships) for human space exploration is very interesting.
« Last Edit: 03/24/2023 01:51 am by yg1968 »

Offline Asteroza

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So, um, how real is this?

Saying LEO space industry is a EU strategic need now is good but, it feels like fear of missing out (FOMO)


It's almost saying x-prize or commercial cargo/crew/station open contracting.  But is ESA really willing to back that? They would have to openly declare a commercial station spec (or more accurately a EU/ESA module hosting spec since commercial providers would build the base hosting station), plus cargo upmass/downmass spec with late load, plus astronaut rotation spec. Adding an RLV requirement will force some innovation and/or merging of commercial startups.

They would also have to dual provider everything to/in LEO, with both providers preferentially EU based. Beyond LEO might be single provider.

So at a minimum, this smells like slapping Arianespace down a level while pulling up Avio to have the fig leaf of two primary providers, and thus anoint two official EU commercial space providers. All the light/medium rocket people will have to fight for table scraps. Plus where does that leave EHLL and Argonaut? Are they going to treat a european moon landing the same way as HLS?


One way to go about it is to unilaterally declare an equatorial LEO EU strategic propellant reserve need. That needs at least two depots, and you can accrete a man tended station onto one and a fulltime manned station onto the other. Tweaking the mass specs for some ESA modules (say crew accommodation) to be attached to the depots to require a Starship scale RLV forces everyone to up their game for EHLL, but still leaves medium lift a market for delivering small unit payloads that can work as commercial modules, plus astronaut delivery. With EHLL class RLV providers and a propellant depot, supporting EU moon landings is comparatively easier (and comparatively easy to drop as an overbudget prestige program while leaving a stable LEO industrial foundation for commercial work).

There's also another path, if you assume EU alone can't support dual commercial providers. EU is not the only group feeling FOMO. With ISS partners feeling like tag alongs on Artemis and getting functionally ejected from ISS as 2030 approaches, there is a stage being set for the EU and Japan. They may feel individually they can't support multiple providers to properly incubate a commercial space industry. Getting ESA and JAXA to jointly commit to a strategic propellant reserve could split the difference, with each partner committing to supply one domestic commercial provider of the same spec at least, thus resulting in at a minimum 2 providers. This assumes two medium-ish commercial providers (A6 and H3) in the short term, Avio possibly competeing from the EU side, and assorted startups, while long term at least one EHLL class RLV. EHLL ostensibly is being pursued for two reasons, having a EU "Le Starship", and SPS building. Both ESA and JAXA have declared SPS research.

Online yg1968

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Some of the highlights of the Revolution Space report:

Quote from: page 10 of the Report
With the need for immediate action in mind, the question is not who is next to put their boots on the Moon, but rather who will sustain a long-term presence.

Quote from: page 14 of the report
For the future, we can foresee for example a European commercial crew capsule with a European astronaut as commander, and astronauts from Latin America, Asia and Africa onboard. This is the “European spirit” in space exploration as a strong partner open to the world.

Quote from: pages 23 and 24 of the report
Rather than designing, developing and operating space infrastructure a commercially-oriented procurement policy needs to be adopted: The public sector, through space agencies like ESA, shall define the requirements for large-scale infrastructure or missions, for example, a crew capsule, and encourage the private sector to propose the most innovative and cost-efficient solution. The public agency will be an anchor customer buying a service or product. In parallel, it will also develop technology building blocks to enable private companies to mature technologies needed to fulfil the services.

The long-term commitment by public agencies is crucial for the private sector to attract funding. The US Commercial Crew Program as well as the Commercial Cargo Program are examples that have developed a successful commercial industry.

Quote from: page 25 of the report
Europe needs to deeply transform its processes by building a framework that kindles real competition between European companies, and aggressively fosters the emergence of new actors. It is impossible to overlook that the major game-changer in space over the past few decades has been the emergence of new companies with often aggressive business models, such as those employed by SpaceX. They have completely reset the competition, and distorted market forces, largely thanks to a new procurement policy by NASA and the US Department of Defense, creating both a demand pull and a strong and competitive supply.

To be able to get back in the exploration race, Europe must overhaul its approach and processes, otherwise, a reinforced ambition is unlikely to be deliverable. Such transformation must include private sector co-investment, new innovative financing structures, institutional challenge-based or service-based procurement, alleviating procurement constraints, and optimization of public-private financing models to stimulate private investment and industrial competitiveness. This has to be matched with sustained support to education providers, research and technology institutes and ensuring ESA’s own transformation.

Quote from: page 30 of the report
While recognising the importance of collaborating with like-minded countries, Europe should strengthen its role by (i) revitalising multilateral efforts in space governance, (ii) playing a leading role in space law development to ensure a rule-based order in space, and (iii) pursuing a new ethic for explored frontiers to avoid repeating Earth-bound patterns.

Quote from: page 31 of the report
Europe should design and implement a European Space Mission to establish an independent European presence in Earth orbit, lunar orbit, on the Moon, and beyond, including a European Commercial LEO Station, Cargo and Crew Capabilities for the Gateway and the Moon, and sustained presence on the lunar surface.

Quote from: page 33 of the report
Europe should pursue symbiotic public private partnerships by embracing a culture of risk and reward-sharing, further lowering the cost of the entry ticket, reducing bureaucracy and fostering new sources of investment.

Quote from: page 35 of the report
As part of the European Space Mission, we are calling upon ESA to prepare for the 2023 Space Summit: [...]

-A scenario for independent and sustainable European human landing on the Moon within 10 years.

Quote from: page 36 of the report
A.1 Mandate of the High-Level Advisory Group

As provided in the Terms of Reference - ESA/C(2022)110 Annex 1, the Group’s mandate is to provide the Member States with an independent and objective high-level assessment regarding the (i) (geo)political, (ii) economic and (iii) societal relevance of human and robotic space exploration for Europe and recommended options for a way forward.

https://esamultimedia.esa.int/docs/corporate/h-lag_brochure.pdf

P.S. Interestingly, the High-Level Advisory Group spoke to Scott Pace (see page 38 of the Report).
« Last Edit: 07/15/2023 07:35 pm by yg1968 »

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Offline woods170

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The advantage is that when you are an outside expert like Cedric O with not any official function, you can be more candid.

This changes from the usual speech from Arianespace about the ugly subsidised SpaceX

To his credit: the Arianespace boss stopped using the fake "subsidies" argument in 2021, when he finally admitted that Arianespace, CNES and ESA had dropped the ball back in 2014.

But here's the thing: beyond admitting that they made a crucial mistake in 2014, Arianespace is not doing all that much to correct it. Like they have done in the previous 45 years, they expect ESA to come up with the money to change things. Very much old-space way of doing things: sucking the governments teats.  And that doesn't bode well for the long-term future of Arianespace IMO.

Online yg1968

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A discussion about the impact of the High-Level Advisory Group's recommendations on Artemis can be found here (it starts with the post that I am linking and continues in the posts below it):
https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=58212.msg2469018#msg2469018


Offline deltaV

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Quote from: page 25 of the report
Europe needs to deeply transform its processes by building a framework that kindles real competition between European companies, and aggressively fosters the emergence of new actors.

That's great advice but will European policy makers follow it? I expect they won't, other than throwing some pocket change at competing micro launchers that are pretty useless due to there not being much of a market for launchers of that size.

Offline hektor

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Extended interview, unfortunately in French, about what ESA intends to do with the conclusions of the Group

L’Europe ne « doit pas tergiverser et doit démarrer ce programme spatial dès aujourd’hui. Il y a une certaine urgence »

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During this Council, a second confidential report was presented and will not be made public. It details what “European industry would be able to do in a very short time. We can do cargo [to LEO] with Ariane 64 from 2028, and certainly human spaceflight afterwards”. The idea is to use "Ariane 6 for cargo and manned flights in LEO then, in a second step, to the Gateway and then towards the lunar surface". At the beginning of April, the ESA will also "launch a call for ideas for in-depth studies of "end-to-end" architecture in LEO and lunar systems". It should be noted that, if the priority is the Moon, ESA will obviously also "carry out manned missions to 'post-ISS' private space stations around the Earth with the participation of European industry, during the next decade", would like to point out Didier Schmitt.

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Unsurprisingly, the use of Ariane 6 brings some constraints mainly in terms of payload capacity. In its version with 4 boosters, the European launcher can send up to 25 tonnes into low orbit and 10 tonnes into trans-lunar orbit like the European lander Argonaut (EL3). ESA recommends a "cargo capable of carrying up to 4 or 5 tonnes of freight with the capacity to return 2 to 3 tonnes of equipment of all kinds to Earth". For lunar missions, ESA is aiming for “10-tonne vehicles capable of bringing back lunar samples from the Gateway. Another vehicle and its "tug" would be used to bring down our astronauts to the lunar surface from the Gateway.
« Last Edit: 03/27/2023 10:59 am by hektor »

Online yg1968

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Online yg1968

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Extended interview, unfortunately in French, about what ESA intends to do with the conclusions of the Group

L’Europe ne « doit pas tergiverser et doit démarrer ce programme spatial dès aujourd’hui. Il y a une certaine urgence »

From the same article:

Quote from: Futura
The primary objective is the low orbit before the Moon

“Beyond Earth orbit, the objective is indeed the lunar surface”, affirms Didier Schmitt who, adding that “we are going to make proposals for options to the Member States in the coming months. The final decision will be made at the political level, the next deadline for which is the space summit in Seville on November 6 and 7”. To fund this program, which is not part of ESA's mandatory activities (space science programs and general budget), the necessary budget will therefore have to follow “through political awareness. First the objective, then the budget; it is indeed a question of new budgets and not of arbitration with other space sectors”.

Google translate version of the article:
https://www-futura--sciences-com.translate.goog/sciences/actualites/vols-habites-europe-ne-doit-pas-tergiverser-doit-demarrer-ce-programme-spatial-aujourdhui-il-y-certaine-urgence-104232/?_x_tr_sl=auto&_x_tr_tl=en&_x_tr_hl=en&_x_tr_pto=wapp&_x_tr_hist=true
« Last Edit: 03/27/2023 01:52 pm by yg1968 »

Offline jpo234

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Like they have done in the previous 45 years, they expect ESA to come up with the money to change things. Very much old-space way of doing things: sucking the governments teats.  And that doesn't bode well for the long-term future of Arianespace IMO.
I have said it before: We are seeing the second round effects of Europe largely missing the dot.com boom. This is when Musk and Bezos started their fortunes and when the Venture Capital funds became large enough to finance huge, speculative technological bets.
« Last Edit: 03/28/2023 07:53 pm 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 lenny97

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Linked to this discussion:

Samantha Cristoforetti is worried about the future of European Space Exploration: "Do we want to be Leader or Passenger?"

During a Panel yesterday at the International Conference On Space Exploration in Turin, IT, ESA Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti gave a passionate speech about the future of the European Space Exploration saying that Europe should change its approach, and develop an independent crew launch capability.
She mentioned SpaceX, Axiom, Inspiration4 and Polaris as examples of public-private collaboration and as successful result of Space programs commercialization.

She stressed that having an independent capability shouldn't means end of International collaboration, instead should reinforce it.

Personal note: knowing how ESA Astronauts are trained to speak in public (and how limited is their possibility to express prsonal thoughts) i found yesterday's speech quite impressive. I swear she said everything in the most direct way I could imagine. Basically the center of the speech was: do something, Europe, or we'll be dead in the new space economy.

https://twitter.com/SpaceVoyaging/status/1656657880433524736
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Offline Rik ISS-fan

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Let Europe first regain an independent crew launch capability!
I say let's be a passenger.

Humans are evolved to live on earth. Just explore with robotics.
In LEO a manned or human tended space station could be useful.
But as of now Italy is wasting hundreds of millions, of European funding on Avio.
In the 2023 to 2025 period close to a billion Euro is being waisted of Ariane 6 transition and these Avio programs.
There goes the funding that could have been used to develop crew launch capability by around 2030.
« Last Edit: 05/13/2023 03:54 pm by Rik ISS-fan »

Offline lenny97

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Let Europe first regain an independent crew launch capability!

Humans are evolved to live on earth. Just explore with robotics.
In LEO a manned or human tended space station could be useful.
But as of now Italy is wasting hundreds of millions, of European funding on Avio.
In the 2023 to 2025 period close to a billion Euro is being waisted of Ariane 6 transition and these Avio programs.
There goes the funding that could have been used to develop crew launch capability by around 2030.


Let's be clear: Avio is a big problem indeed, but that's not the ONE AND ONLY problem of Europe's Space Program...
At SEC2023 just yesterday, Walter Cugno of Thales Alenia Space has said that European companies are "competing for peanuts".
Quote
"It is not possible that in 18 months, in Europe, we argue about what to do and why, and in China they build a space station..."
Didier Schmitt, Strategy and coordination group leader for robotic and human exploration, ESA, says the change will start with the November meeting; Wolfgang Dürr, Head of Marketing and Sales Space Exploration, Airbus, says that it must start now because in November decisions will have to be made that have already been reasoned and fixed much before.

Do you see where the problem is now? Not yet?


They also acknowledge that it is impossible to get 22 member countries to agree on a unique direction.
Timo Stuffler, Director of Business Development and Exploration, OHB:
Quote
Bezos puts a billion a year into space without batting an eye, here a miracle is needed for a budget increase of ~700 million
« Last Edit: 05/13/2023 04:04 pm by lenny97 »
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Offline Rik ISS-fan

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Once humans get involved into spaceflight, budgets go into billions before any science can get done. So just be passenger for human spaceflight. The European service module for Orion and some station sections is what Europe can contribute. The majority of the exploration funding should go to satellites/ rovers.
Afaik Europe hasn't matured planetary lander technology, this is a way higher priority for exploration than human launch capability.
Europe must first relearn to launch, then eliminate solids for safety, develop reentry capability. That's several exploration satellites / rover missions worth only to develop a launch capability. Just accept that Europe doesn't have this capability, because the funding isn't available.  (or the funding is waisted on other developments, i.a.:
  700mln to get payloads into orbit again (Ariane 6).
  2x>50mln for an in orbit stage,
  180mln for a liquid rocket demo,
  2x >100mln for LOx CH4 rocket engines [this is defendable in my opinion.)
Just do (robotic) science missions.
« Last Edit: 05/13/2023 05:03 pm by Rik ISS-fan »

Online yg1968

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A holistic approach for launchers and exploration in Europe by Josef Aschbacher, Director General at European Space Agency - ESA:
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/holistic-approach-launchers-exploration-europe-josef-aschbacher/

https://twitter.com/AschbacherJosef/status/1661387188179808259

[zubenelgenubi: Further updates and discussion on this topic are in this splinter thread: European Launcher Policy.]
« Last Edit: 05/25/2023 02:55 am by zubenelgenubi »

Offline hektor

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Press conference in Le Bourget about the same topic

Offline woods170

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Linked to this discussion:

Samantha Cristoforetti is worried about the future of European Space Exploration: "Do we want to be Leader or Passenger?"

Rather ironic coming from an astronaut who merrily flew to space TWICE as a passenger.

Offline woods170

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Once humans get involved into spaceflight, budgets go into billions before any science can get done. So just be passenger for human spaceflight.

I can perfectly understand this. The ESA member states have shown time-and-again that they are NOT willing to spend the billions of Euros required to develop an independent European crewed spaceflight capability.

Hermes was the closest they ever got and it got canned because only a single of the participating countries failed to fullfil its financial obligations.
All other attempts ever since never got any serious traction.

ESA member states are simply not willing to cough up the mountain of additionally required Euros.

So, I'm going to make a prediction that IMO is very safe: 15 years from now ESA will still not have an independent, European-sourced, crewed spaceflight capability.

Offline TheKutKu

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Linked to this discussion:

Samantha Cristoforetti is worried about the future of European Space Exploration: "Do we want to be Leader or Passenger?"

Rather ironic coming from an astronaut who merrily flew to space TWICE as a passenger.

Entirely Dismissing a *National* crewed spacecraft made in Europe , in a timespan probably not even significantly longer than 15 years, would however be a mistake, especially thanks to general improvements in designing and manufacturing and the growth of the space economy.
Said National spacecraft could then have its service sold to the ESA.


Offline friendly3

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Entirely Dismissing a *National* crewed spacecraft made in Europe , in a timespan probably not even significantly longer than 15 years, would however be a mistake, especially thanks to general improvements in designing and manufacturing and the growth of the space economy.
Said National spacecraft could then have its service sold to the ESA.

Obviously she wasn't thinking of a national spacecraft of a european country when whe said "we". But can you tell us which european countries are most likely to be the first to develop a national spacecraft?

Offline TheKutKu

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Entirely Dismissing a *National* crewed spacecraft made in Europe , in a timespan probably not even significantly longer than 15 years, would however be a mistake, especially thanks to general improvements in designing and manufacturing and the growth of the space economy.
Said National spacecraft could then have its service sold to the ESA.

Obviously she wasn't thinking of a national spacecraft of a european country when whe said "we". But can you tell us which european countries are most likely to be the first to develop a national spacecraft?

Well Germany seems the more likely place, especially as a Private-led National rather than Public-led National endeavour, but as I said, the lowering bar of entry in established skills, organisations and industrial capability may create surprises. Maybe medium countries like Spain or Sweden could be it! The favourable circumstances that have been historically necessary to the development of Human Spaceflight may even be more likely in smaller countries.
« Last Edit: 06/21/2023 01:20 pm by TheKutKu »

Offline woods170

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Entirely Dismissing a *National* crewed spacecraft made in Europe , in a timespan probably not even significantly longer than 15 years, would however be a mistake, especially thanks to general improvements in designing and manufacturing and the growth of the space economy.
Said National spacecraft could then have its service sold to the ESA.

Obviously she wasn't thinking of a national spacecraft of a european country when whe said "we". But can you tell us which european countries are most likely to be the first to develop a national spacecraft?

Well Germany seems the more likely place, especially as a Private-led National rather than Public-led National endeavour, but as I said, the lowering bar of entry in established skills, organisations and industrial capability may create surprises. Maybe medium countries like Spain or Sweden could be it! The favourable circumstances that have been historically necessary to the development of Human Spaceflight may even be more likely in smaller countries.

Europe does not have the equivalent of an Elon Musk, let alone the equivalent of a SpaceX. IMO right now, and in the foreseeable future, no European entity, private or public, will be in a position to develop a crewed access-to-space system, without significant input of public money.

Remember: even SpaceX required $1.4B in public money support to field Crew Dragon. And they were only able to do so because they had the prior experience of developing Dragon 1. Which retired a LOT of risk and itself was done with a $300M injection of public funds.
And that's just for the spacecraft itself. What launcher would a notional "national" spacecraft be launched on? It is not going to be Ariane 6, for all the obvious reasons.
So, you're looking at not only developing the spacecraft, but its carrier rocket as well.

So, even if Europe had the equivalent of a SpaceX (which it doesn't), the ESA member states or national governments would still have to contribute several billions of Euros to get things going. The last time ESA or national governments were willing to do so was in 1988. And it failed miserably in that it only resulted in a very expensive launcher and no spacecraft while costing twice what the entire package was supposed to cost.

Recent technological advances do nothing to change this IMO. Just look at how Ariane 6 development is NOT being helped by those recent technological advances: it is late, it is obsolete and it is also substantially over budget.
« Last Edit: 06/21/2023 01:51 pm by woods170 »

Offline deltaV

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What launcher would a notional "national" spacecraft be launched on? It is not going to be Ariane 6, for all the obvious reasons.

Why not? As far as I can tell practically any launcher can be human rated if the organization who chooses human rating standards wants it to be.

Offline GWR64

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Does the change of Director of Human and Robotic Exploration from Dr. David Parker to Daniel Neuenschwander have anything to do with this very negative report? From the time frame, it would be possible.
I had linked the change to the problems at space transportation, but that could also come from this side.

https://www.esa.int/About_Us/Corporate_news/Council_approves_senior_management_changes
« Last Edit: 06/21/2023 07:15 pm by GWR64 »

Offline TheKutKu

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Entirely Dismissing a *National* crewed spacecraft made in Europe , in a timespan probably not even significantly longer than 15 years, would however be a mistake, especially thanks to general improvements in designing and manufacturing and the growth of the space economy.
Said National spacecraft could then have its service sold to the ESA.

Obviously she wasn't thinking of a national spacecraft of a european country when whe said "we". But can you tell us which european countries are most likely to be the first to develop a national spacecraft?

Well Germany seems the more likely place, especially as a Private-led National rather than Public-led National endeavour, but as I said, the lowering bar of entry in established skills, organisations and industrial capability may create surprises. Maybe medium countries like Spain or Sweden could be it! The favourable circumstances that have been historically necessary to the development of Human Spaceflight may even be more likely in smaller countries.

Europe does not have the equivalent of an Elon Musk, let alone the equivalent of a SpaceX. IMO right now, and in the foreseeable future, no European entity, private or public, will be in a position to develop a crewed access-to-space system, without significant input of public money.

Remember: even SpaceX required $1.4B in public money support to field Crew Dragon. And they were only able to do so because they had the prior experience of developing Dragon 1. Which retired a LOT of risk and itself was done with a $300M injection of public funds.
And that's just for the spacecraft itself. What launcher would a notional "national" spacecraft be launched on? It is not going to be Ariane 6, for all the obvious reasons.
So, you're looking at not only developing the spacecraft, but its carrier rocket as well.

So, even if Europe had the equivalent of a SpaceX (which it doesn't), the ESA member states or national governments would still have to contribute several billions of Euros to get things going. The last time ESA or national governments were willing to do so was in 1988. And it failed miserably in that it only resulted in a very expensive launcher and no spacecraft while costing twice what the entire package was supposed to cost.

Recent technological advances do nothing to change this IMO. Just look at how Ariane 6 development is NOT being helped by those recent technological advances: it is late, it is obsolete and it is also substantially over budget.

SpaceX was and is exceptional in the same way the Apollo program was exceptional, I do not expect an equivalent in Europe, I don't think it'll be necessary either. The jump from the various European smaller launcher projects to a human rated medium launcher seems plausible on the medium term.

Space Tourism is the only reasonable (not ideologically motivated) large scale case for human space travel and that could very well result in human spaceflight (and its development) eventually being much more private-funded than public-funded;

 I am hopeful technological advances will lower the bar of entry of such developments, although I believe European countries will not be those which benefit the most of those in the context of human spaceflight.
« Last Edit: 06/22/2023 12:11 am by TheKutKu »

Offline woods170

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What launcher would a notional "national" spacecraft be launched on? It is not going to be Ariane 6, for all the obvious reasons.

Why not? As far as I can tell practically any launcher can be human rated if the organization who chooses human rating standards wants it to be.

Because Ariane 6 will be a short-lived interim launcher only. It is already clear that it is barely competitive now and will not be competitive at all within 5 years from now.
Sticking with Ariane 6 in the hope that it will one day launch a European-sourced crewed spacecraft would be prohibitive due to the horrendously expensive price tag which comes with being fully expendable.

Just think of it: ESA and CNES are already looking at replacing Ariane 6 with a reusable launcher, even before the maiden launch of Ariane 6. So how long do you think Ariane 6 will fly? It certainly won't be the 27 year run of Ariane 5.
Developing an Ariane 6 replacement will take 10 years. Developing a European crewed spacecraft will also take 10 years. So, by the time the crewed spacecraft is ready, Ariane 6 will be heading for retirement. As such, it makes no sense whatsoever to crew-rate Ariane 6. Instead, the next vehicle (Ariane 7 or whatever it will be called) will be crew-rated for the crewed spacecraft.
« Last Edit: 06/22/2023 09:45 am by woods170 »

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Developing an Ariane 6 replacement will take 10 years. Developing a European crewed spacecraft will also take 10 years. So, by the time the crewed spacecraft is ready, Ariane 6 will be heading for retirement. As such, it makes no sense whatsoever to crew-rate Ariane 6. Instead, the next vehicle (Ariane 7 or whatever it will be called) will be crew-rated for the crewed spacecraft.
That just means a decision of developing a crew capsule for:
- A vehicle that will have had 10 years of service to get the bugs out and refine performance and operations
- A vehicle that will debut at the same time as the capsule, and will also be on the critical path for that capsule
Or:
- A capsule that can be launched on Ariane 6, that has the capability to be launched on a future launcher too once one is available

The latter option applies some constraints (e.g. capsule mass must be below the lowest of the two prospective launch vehicles) but affords schedule flexibility.

Offline woods170

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Developing an Ariane 6 replacement will take 10 years. Developing a European crewed spacecraft will also take 10 years. So, by the time the crewed spacecraft is ready, Ariane 6 will be heading for retirement. As such, it makes no sense whatsoever to crew-rate Ariane 6. Instead, the next vehicle (Ariane 7 or whatever it will be called) will be crew-rated for the crewed spacecraft.
That just means a decision of developing a crew capsule for:
- A vehicle that will have had 10 years of service to get the bugs out and refine performance and operations

That would be the second-worst choice. In this scenario you have a super reliable launcher, only to find out that the crewed vehicle is the only remaining customer (all others have moved on to cheaper, more efficient, reusable launchers). That sole customer then has to bear the entire financial burden of keeping the launcher's production line open, upkeep of the processing facilities, upkeep of the launch facilities, etc, etc. That in turn will kill any hopes of keeping the crewed vehicle affordable and competitive.

- A vehicle that will debut at the same time as the capsule, and will also be on the critical path for that capsule
Not a problem as proven by Ariane 5 (which never was on the critical path for Hermes) and Falcon 9 (which never was on the critical path for Dragon 1). Launchers are easier to develop than crewed spacecraft. On average 9 years for new launchers and 11 years for new crewed spacecraft (based on the history of developing STS, Orion, Starliner, Crew Dragon, SLS, STS, Falcon 9, Antares and Vulcan).

Or:
- A capsule that can be launched on Ariane 6, that has the capability to be launched on a future launcher too once one is available

The latter option applies some constraints (e.g. capsule mass must be below the lowest of the two prospective launch vehicles) but affords schedule flexibility.
This is by far the worst option. The long period required for developing a European crewed spacecraft almost guarantees that the new launcher will be ready by the time the spacecraft is ready. Why on Earth would you then first want to fly the crewed spacecraft on the old launcher (Ariane 6), before moving it to the new launcher?
That is highly inefficient. In this scenario you get to go through crew-rating not once, but twice. With twice the cost. That is not going to help in securing funding for development. And as you mentioned yourself: you end up with a compromised vehicle, because its design has to be such that it is compatible with 2 different launchers.




IMO the only viable option is co-development (parallel development) of the crewed vehicle and a new reusable launcher. Even if development of the crewed vehicle fails, for whatever reason (shades of Hermes....) you still get at least a reusable launcher out of the package deal. Which is what Europe needs anyway if it wants remain a major player in spaceflight.
The only BUT is that such a package deal requires a greater amount of public funding, albeit over a shorter period, as opposed to option 3, where less funding is required, but is smeared out over a longer period (where the crewed vehicle and launcher are not developed in parallel but sequentially).
« Last Edit: 06/22/2023 01:56 pm by woods170 »

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Offline woods170

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Interest grows for human spaceflight in Europe:
https://spacenews.com/interest-grows-for-human-spaceflight-in-europe/

https://twitter.com/SpaceNews_Inc/status/1677400696818204672

This is not so much interest in building a European solution to get crew to orbit, but interest in making use of an existing American solution to get crew to orbit (Crew Dragon).

In other words: this "growing interest for human spaceflight in Europe" does not actually help Europe in getting its own independent means of crewed access to space. In fact, one could make the point that it actually serves to further delay it. Money spent by ESA member states, on 10-day trips to the ISS via SpaceX and Axiom, is money that no longer can be spent on developing a European independent means of crewed access to space.

Offline deltaV

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In other words: this "growing interest for human spaceflight in Europe" does not actually help Europe in getting its own independent means of crewed access to space.

True, the growing interest is in "human spaceflight" not "human spaceflight pork". Who's more interested in ice cream: someone who buys and consumes imported ice cream, or someone who doesn't eat ice cream at all but is looking for a government-funded diary job?
« Last Edit: 07/08/2023 04:45 pm by deltaV »

Offline hfakos

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This is not so much interest in building a European solution to get crew to orbit, but interest in making use of an existing American solution to get crew to orbit (Crew Dragon).

In other words: this "growing interest for human spaceflight in Europe" does not actually help Europe in getting its own independent means of crewed access to space. In fact, one could make the point that it actually serves to further delay it. Money spent by ESA member states, on 10-day trips to the ISS via SpaceX and Axiom, is money that no longer can be spent on developing a European independent means of crewed access to space.

Agreed. I see two rational options.

(A) If Europe believes manned spaceflight is a bad investment with little return, scientific or otherwise, it should not spend a single cent on it.

(B) Conversely, if Europe believes manned spaceflight is important for whatever reason, it should develop its own independent crewed infrastructure.

What we have right now is taxpayer-funded space tourism. Which should stop. If Europe opts for A, let rich Europeans spend their own private wealth to buy seats on American, Russian, Chinese, or soon Indian spacecraft.

I personally think we should go for B. I thought Europe wants to be a player, not a playing field.

Offline Eric Hedman

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The problem I see for Europe is if they develop a reusable launcher, I think it will match Falcon 9 at best and be more than a generation behind when it starts flying.  Starship and New Glenn will hopefully both be a generation beyond what Falcon 9 can do by the time a reusable European launcher is ready and neither of them are going to sit still and forgo upgrades.  I think Europe simply missed the boat and will be wasting a lot of money trying to catch up.  I think they should focus on areas where they can lead and contract out flights to the commercial US carriers.  They could focus on building Moon base components, or LEO station modules and lead in commercial low cost development of them.  We'd all be farther ahead if they don't spend their budget on a ten or fifteen year journey to match what US companies will be dong in the near future.  Making the next generation of space development one where each player brings its strengths would get us farther quicker.

Offline woods170

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This is not so much interest in building a European solution to get crew to orbit, but interest in making use of an existing American solution to get crew to orbit (Crew Dragon).

In other words: this "growing interest for human spaceflight in Europe" does not actually help Europe in getting its own independent means of crewed access to space. In fact, one could make the point that it actually serves to further delay it. Money spent by ESA member states, on 10-day trips to the ISS via SpaceX and Axiom, is money that no longer can be spent on developing a European independent means of crewed access to space.

Agreed. I see two rational options.

(A) If Europe believes manned spaceflight is a bad investment with little return, scientific or otherwise, it should not spend a single cent on it.

(B) Conversely, if Europe believes manned spaceflight is important for whatever reason, it should develop its own independent crewed infrastructure.
<snip>

Ever since development of the HERMES mini space shuttle collapsed in 1992, most of the ESA member states have firmly chosen for option A.
Despite all the calls from the heads of Arianespace and ESA and DLR etc., I have not seen anything that indicates that the responsible ministers are moving over to option B.
What happens at the next ESA ministerial will indicate if ESA member states are once again willing to fund an independent European means to put crew in space.

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There is only one good business sense in manned spaceflight in my humble opinion, and that is tourism. All other reasons may be important eg. science,  but will always have to be subsidised.

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At 30 minutes of this video, Josef Aschbacher says that it would be great if ESA had the capability to bring crew with a European rocket and capsule to a space station (presumably in LEO) and eventually to the Moon:
https://spacewatch.global/2023/07/our-space-cafe-33-minutes-with-josef-aschbacher-european-space-ambitions-esa-agenda-2025-updates-and-goals/

https://twitter.com/SpaceWatchGL/status/1680261090972672001
« Last Edit: 07/15/2023 06:32 pm by yg1968 »

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At 37 minutes of the same video, Josef Aschbacher said that he recently meant with a new space company about their interest in providing commercial cargo transportation services to and from space for micro-activity experiments and he added that the company would like ESA to be their anchor customer (his description of this potential program sounded similar to CRS/COTS).

https://spacewatch.global/2023/07/our-space-cafe-33-minutes-with-josef-aschbacher-european-space-ambitions-esa-agenda-2025-updates-and-goals/
« Last Edit: 07/15/2023 06:37 pm by yg1968 »

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Please tell me if I am wrong, but when I look at what the European space agencies are saying, they have little clue about the seriousness of the situation for the commercial outlook for Ariane 6 and the launch market in general and EUs role in it.

We have moved from space being a strength for the EU and a commercial success, to again becoming dependent on others for access to space, for human access to space, and for access to the moon. Despite that we with the launch site close the Equator has an advantage.

We are aimed at becoming indifferent and they don't get it. That Titanic feeling is creeping in.   >:(


« Last Edit: 07/21/2023 04:31 pm by Halken »

Offline Zed_Noir

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Please tell me if I am wrong, but when I look at what the European space agencies are saying, they have little clue about the seriousness of the situation for the commercial outlook for Ariane 6 and the launch market in general and EUs role in it.

We have moved from space being a strength for the EU and a commercial success, to again becoming dependent on others for access to space, for human access to space, and for access to the moon. Despite that we with the launch site close the Equator has an advantage.

We are aimed at becoming indifferent and they don't get it. That Titanic feeling is creeping in.   >:(
Will disagree with you. European Space Agencies knows that they miss the future commercial space business boat with the obsolete Ariane 6 that is running late. There is nothing they can do about it.

So it appears to me they are scaling back their future launch business to minimized their near future investments in launch vehicles and infrastructure. While assessing if they can reenter the future commercial launch market with new development programs.

As I see it. The EU have the resources to developed something to get a portion of the future  commercial launch market. If they put together a fast development plan that don't included the current geo-return policy.



Offline GWR64

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Just my humble opinion:
If there was any possibility at all,
the turning to the moon, moon village, lunar gateway make independent European human space flight impossible. The cost exceeds the cost in Earth orbit by a factor of ten. With a lower return on possible flights and scientific results.
There will be no political support for these sums, and also no support from the majority of the population in Europe.
Say what you want about the ISS, one thing is certain: it connects people from different countries who would not otherwise work together.
Due to the high costs, this will be much less the case on the moon.
« Last Edit: 07/22/2023 10:59 am by GWR64 »

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At 45 minutes of the crew-7 press conference, Frank De Winne notes that ESA is discussing developing its own cargo and crew transportation system to LEO and eventually to the Moon. He mentions that having complementary capability is a strength and helps them to be an even stronger partner for Artemis and the Moon to Mars program:



https://twitter.com/w_robinsonsmith/status/1693741191404122528

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« Last Edit: 09/17/2023 05:01 am by hektor »

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Online yg1968

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At 30 minutes of this video, there is discussion of programs that will enable ESA to access orbital and lunar markets. Three programs are mentioned as being helpful in that respect:
https://twitter.com/i/broadcasts/1MnxnMoDQZoJO

1- The cargo transportation services program to the ISS and LEO
2- Argonaut (cargo lunar lander)
3- Electrically propulsed vehicles (EP tugs?).

Edit: see post below.
« Last Edit: 12/15/2023 01:54 am by yg1968 »

Offline Asteroza

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At 30 minutes of this video, there is discussion of programs that will enable ESA to access orbital and lunar markets. Three programs are mentioned as being helpful in that respect:
https://twitter.com/i/broadcasts/1MnxnMoDQZoJO

1- The cargo transportation services program to the ISS and LEO
2- Argonaut (cargo lunar lander)
3- Electrically propulsed vehicles (EPTux?). I am not familiar with that program; it sounded like EPTux but I may not have heard the name of the program properly. Does anyone know the exact name of program?

Tux = Tugs?

Online yg1968

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At 30 minutes of this video, there is discussion of programs that will enable ESA to access orbital and lunar markets. Three programs are mentioned as being helpful in that respect:
https://twitter.com/i/broadcasts/1MnxnMoDQZoJO

1- The cargo transportation services program to the ISS and LEO
2- Argonaut (cargo lunar lander)
3- Electrically propulsed vehicles (EPTux?). I am not familiar with that program; it sounded like EPTux but I may not have heard the name of the program properly. Does anyone know the exact name of program?

Tux = Tugs?

Thanks! That would make a lot of sense. He mentioned that it would be useful to get to the Moon and Mars and to get back from Mars.

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