Author Topic: European launcher policy  (Read 4637 times)

Online FutureSpaceTourist

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European launcher policy
« on: 05/24/2023 03:18 pm »
Couldn’t find an existing thread for this. Seems like a good time to start one, with head of ESA saying:

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

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Europe finds itself in an acute launcher crisis with a gap in its access to space and no real launcher vision beyond 2030. True crisis forces us to reflect on the causes & decisions that brought us here, to come out stronger than before. Read my OpEd👇

My emphasis below:

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/holistic-approach-launchers-exploration-europe-josef-aschbacher

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A holistic approach for launchers and exploration in Europe

Josef Aschbacher Josef Aschbacher
Josef Aschbacher
Director General at European Space Agency - ESA
Published May 24, 2023
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Over the past five decades, ESA has paved the way for industrial, commercial and scientific leadership for Europe in several space domains, most notably space science, earth observation, satellite-based navigation and geostationary satellite communication, building up through time a scientific, technical and industrial capability for which we Europeans can be very proud. Likewise, up until 10 years ago, Europe also dominated the commercial launcher sector. European access to space historically goes together with ESA’s priorities to support our space policy serving scientific, technological, economic and security goals.

SpaceX has undeniably changed the launcher market paradigm as we know it. With the dependable reliability of Falcon 9 and the captivating prospects of Starship, SpaceX continues to totally redefine the world’s access to space, pushing the boundaries of possibility as they go along. Once successful, Starship will carry payloads of around 100 tonnes into Low Earth Orbit (LEO) while reducing the launch cost by a factor of 10. Falcon 9 aims to launch 100 times in 2023.

Europe, on the other hand, finds itself today in an acute launcher crisis with a (albeit temporary) gap in its own access to space and no real launcher vision beyond 2030. Fortunately for us, true crisis forces us to candidly reflect on the causes and decisions that brought us here, draw the subsequent and necessary painful lessons, and come out stronger than before. More resilient, more clever, more visionary.

In parallel of this launcher crisis, we find ourselves on the cusp of a new frontier in space exploration.  The discontinuation of the International Space Station after 2030 and the now graspable and quite tangible exploration of the Moon and other celestial bodies is spurring creativity and the onset of completely new perspectives in science, economy, and geopolitics.

My hope, quite possibly my biggest aspiration for Europe, is that this temporary lack of access to space, combined with this moment of novel opportunities in exploration and a rapidly evolving space economy, will be the impetus for a deep reflection of Europe’s modus operandi, leading to a transformation of our overall space ecosystem. But also, that the generally accepted position that Europe cannot again lose out on key strategic domains as we did a few decades ago on IT or quantum computing inspires hope and that this time, Europe will be ready to act – and to deliver. Ultimately, I envision a holistic approach for a new European flagship programme combining access to space and exploration, enabling increased activities for Europe in LEO, cis-lunar, on the surface of the Moon and beyond. This transformation should be driven by a new engagement model between the public and private sector including new acquisition strategies and a different role for ESA and industry to increase pace and cost efficiency.

So, what do we do now?

To place Europe in a leading position in terms of access to space and space exploration again, the following top-priority actions should be undertaken by ESA between now and 2030:

I. First and foremost, ensure the successful inaugural flight of Ariane 6 and the rapid return to flight of Vega-C, including fast ramp-up of launcher cadence and their stabilised exploitation.

II. Complement the European publicly funded launchers by mini-launchers that emerge as mostly privately funded projects whereby the public sector acts as anchor customer.

III. Prepare the 2023 and 2024 Space Summits ensuring that all elements needed for a political decision will be available on time, including architectural options and budgetary information, to achieve a wide interest of Member States and a roadmap defining the operational capability build-up beyond this decade.

IV.  2023-2024: Prepare decisions for Heads of States

a. Perform comprehensive system studies on the future European space infrastructure maximizing coherence and cost-efficiency, simplicity, synergies, and reuse, and minimizing operations costs. Ensure coordination with international partners, in particular NASA, and possibly invite other partners.

b. Develop the main elements in terms of critical technology, procurement policy and programme roadmap for the next launcher and exploration flagships, with a strong focus on reusability, cost-efficiency, innovation, and sustainability.

c. Increase the support to promising commercial European entities in access to space and exploration, through provision of seed and acceleration funding, of technical support, access to ESA test facilities and labs, and access to private investment. Encourage co-funding whenever possible.

d. Set up systematic competitions for procuring regular flight opportunities from private European operators offering gap-filling capabilities for access to space, as well as competitions for access to Low Earth Orbit for scientific or commercial payload.

V. 2025: Member States to decide on a proposal that I will present at the Ministerial Council 2025 addressing:

a. Step-increase on commercial space transportation services to stimulate intra-European competition and multi-source contracting, to increase the range of available European services, lowering prices and stimulating innovation while safeguarding European sovereign access to space;

b.  A new flagship programme based on the ambition by the Inspirator on human and robotic exploration and access to space in full synergy and complementarity with the ESA E3P programme and launcher development programmes;

c. ESA acting as customer for services from industry, based on fair and intra-European competitive procurements.

If Europe is to become once again a key participant in the new race to exploration, leading in several domains and ensuring enhanced strategic autonomy, then the time to decide and to act is now. Forward-looking decisions must be taken, at the 2023 and 2024 Space Summits as well as at the next ESA Ministerial Council in 2025, on a new European ambition in space transportation and exploration together with concrete actions and developments. I know that we can do this. Let’s go, together.
« Last Edit: 05/24/2023 03:18 pm by FutureSpaceTourist »

Online FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: European launcher policy
« Reply #1 on: 05/24/2023 03:27 pm »
https://twitter.com/sciguyspace/status/1661393129319038977

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This is a remarkably clear headed look at Europe's difficulties in launch, and offers a path forward. I'm skeptical whether ESA's member states will heed this call, but Aschbacher is proving to be a shrewd leader of the agency. Good luck.

Offline Stan-1967

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Re: European launcher policy
« Reply #2 on: 05/24/2023 03:32 pm »
Well it sounds like a very thoughtfully constructed 12 point plan that could potentially be agreed to by 2025. 

Again, i'll repeat myself, it may reach agreement at the ESA Ministerial Counsel by 2025. 

2025.......

Good luck Europe.

Offline yg1968

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Offline deltaV

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Re: European launcher policy
« Reply #4 on: 05/25/2023 02:51 am »
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II. Complement the European publicly funded launchers by mini-launchers that emerge as mostly privately funded projects whereby the public sector acts as anchor customer.

Funding mini-launchers is a bad idea because mini-launchers cannot compete with ride-shares on large reusable launchers such as Falcon, Starship, and New Glenn. There just aren't enough customers that want to pay an order of magnitude more for a dedicated launch. Europe would be left as the main funder of their mini launchers. Instead Europe needs to encourage competition in the 10+ tonne to LEO class market where most commercial and government demand is. Europe needs competing Ariane 6 class launchers.

Offline soyuzu

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Re: European launcher policy
« Reply #5 on: 05/25/2023 04:30 am »
How about Build-Operate-Transfer with a US partner?

Like asking BO, Firefly, etc. to build a Falcon 9 esque with Prometheus in ESA provided facilities, do a large block by with a fixed contract, and transfer the production line to ESA after the launch contract finished.

Online edzieba

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Re: European launcher policy
« Reply #6 on: 05/25/2023 10:30 am »
How about Build-Operate-Transfer with a US partner?

Like asking BO, Firefly, etc. to build a Falcon 9 esque with Prometheus in ESA provided facilities, do a large block by with a fixed contract, and transfer the production line to ESA after the launch contract finished.
Misses the independent* domestic capability goal, which is rather the point of ESA.

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II. Complement the European publicly funded launchers by mini-launchers that emerge as mostly privately funded projects whereby the public sector acts as anchor customer.

Funding mini-launchers is a bad idea because mini-launchers cannot compete with ride-shares on large reusable launchers such as Falcon, Starship, and New Glenn. There just aren't enough customers that want to pay an order of magnitude more for a dedicated launch. Europe would be left as the main funder of their mini launchers. Instead Europe needs to encourage competition in the 10+ tonne to LEO class market where most commercial and government demand is. Europe needs competing Ariane 6 class launchers.
In the absence of large reusable European launchers, and with the assumption that the European LEO constellation project goes ahead, that creates a market for smallsat launch in Europe that small launchers would be competitive within.

Absolute cost is not the sole driver of the European launch market, any moreso than it is in the US.


* The US reserving the right to refuse to launch European commercial comsats that could compete with INTELSAT was the catalyst for creation of the ESA.

Offline soyuzu

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Re: European launcher policy
« Reply #7 on: 05/25/2023 01:22 pm »
How about Build-Operate-Transfer with a US partner?

Like asking BO, Firefly, etc. to build a Falcon 9 esque with Prometheus in ESA provided facilities, do a large block by with a fixed contract, and transfer the production line to ESA after the launch contract finished.

Misses the independent* domestic capability goal, which is rather the point of ESA.

* The US reserving the right to refuse to launch European commercial comsats that could compete with INTELSAT was the catalyst for creation of the ESA.

They can keep Ariane 6 running and seek European commercial solution along with the BOT process, and I’m mostly sure these combined will be cheaper than developing Ariane 7 in traditional way.

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In the absence of large reusable European launchers, and with the assumption that the European LEO constellation project goes ahead, that creates a market for smallsat launch in Europe that small launchers would be competitive within.

Launching LEO constellation on small launchers will be more expensive than even large expendable rockets.

Online FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: European launcher policy
« Reply #8 on: 11/06/2023 09:55 am »
https://twitter.com/esa/status/1721476481610621060

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Today, we will put forward our ambitious plans to increase European autonomy, leadership and responsibility in space at the #SpaceSummit in Seville.   

📺 Join us live TODAY here on X or over on #ESAWebTV from 13:00 GMT/14:00 CET 👉   https://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/ESA_Web_TV

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Re: European launcher policy
« Reply #9 on: 11/06/2023 02:40 pm »
https://twitter.com/sciguyspace/status/1721552127825170925

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The venerable Ariane 5 rocket has retired, its replacement, Ariane 6, is not ready, and the smaller Vega C is also having teething problems. This crisis could lead to the breakup of a decades-long partnership in Europe to build rockets. Article:

https://arstechnica.com/space/2023/11/ariane-6-cost-and-delays-bring-european-launch-industry-to-a-breaking-point/

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Ariane 6 cost and delays bring European launch industry to a breaking point
"I certainly expect a paradigm shift on the launcher sector."

by Eric Berger - Nov 6, 2023 3:00pm GMT

European space officials will convene on Monday and Tuesday to discuss the future of space policy for the continent. The "Space Summit" gathering in Seville, Spain, will encompass several topics, including the future of launch.

Online FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: European launcher policy
« Reply #10 on: 11/06/2023 02:43 pm »
https://twitter.com/andrewparsonson/status/1721530571589898593

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There it is. In an agreement between Italy, France, and Germany, @Avio_Group has been granted the right to market Vega-C independently of @Arianespace.

https://www.asi.it/2023/11/spazio-urso-svolta-in-europa-dopo-intesa-trilaterale-italia-francia-germania/

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Re: European launcher policy
« Reply #11 on: 11/06/2023 04:38 pm »
https://www.esa.int/About_Us/Corporate_news/Ministers_back_Europe_s_sustainable_and_competitive_space_ambitions

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Ministers back Europe’s sustainable and competitive space ambitions

06/11/2023

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ESA / About Us / Corporate news

Europe will harness space for a greener future, take decisive steps in exploration, and ensure autonomous access to space while preparing a paradigm shift towards a more competitive next generation of launchers, following decisions taken today at the ESA Space Summit in Seville.

Government ministers representing ESA’s Member States, Associate States and Cooperating States resolved together to strengthen Europe’s space ambitions to better serve European citizens.

Meanwhile ESA is modernising how it runs its programmes, speeding up its procurements and increasing its role as an anchor customer to commercial suppliers, while fostering the development of cutting-edge technologies and programmes.

Josef Aschbacher, ESA Director General, said: “Space today is far more than space science, robotic and human exploration. Space has become strategic for the prosperity of any nation. Space policy is climate policy, industrial policy and security policy. It is a crucial tool for addressing global challenges. Space has become a topic at the global negotiation table. Europe must actively participate in this conversation.”

Anna Christmann, Federal Government Coordinator of German Aerospace Policy, who chaired today’s ESA Council meeting at the Ministerial level, said: “Today, ESA Member States have reaffirmed their commitment to a strong ESA. By doing so, Member States have enabled the first steps towards innovative and competitive approaches that will revolutionise how Europe secures its future access to space as well as its role in exploration. A strong agency will also help to better use space to deal with climate change, benefiting everyone on Earth. I look forward to continuing along this promising path when the Member States meet for the ESA Council meeting at the Ministerial level in Germany in 2025.”

Accelerating the use of space

Earth observation data from space was crucial to identifying climate change. ESA will now help Europe to move from monitoring to managing – and harness the use of space to pursue climate action, supporting national and European efforts to become carbon neutral by 2050.

Working with international partners – many of whom are from outside the space industry – ESA will accelerate the use of space for a green future. It will build on several of ESA’s existing activities, including: the Green Transition Information Factory, which uses Earth observation data, cloud computing and cutting-edge analytics to help policymakers and industries to navigate the transition to carbon neutrality; the Iris system for satellite-enabled greener aviation; and efforts to use space data to enable greener agriculture, energy and transport that were recently catalogued in ESA’s “green dossier”.

ESA has agreed to work in partnership with the EU’s Director-General for Climate Action, which leads the European Commission’s efforts to fight climate change at the EU and international levels.

Simultaneously, ESA will work to actively reduce the environmental footprint of all space projects across their entire lifecycles and to foster a clean and sustainable space industry.

Climate change fuels hurricanes and flooding that threaten human life and prosperity in Europe, as do natural disasters such as wildfires and earthquakes. Meanwhile growing numbers of satellites are well placed to help respond to such emergencies.

ESA will accelerate the use of space to respond to such emergencies through the rapid and resilient crisis response accelerator. Ministers have voiced their support for ESA to engage with international partners – again, many of whom are outside the space industry – to deliver a comprehensive gap analysis to Member States.

Today’s world is becoming ever more dependent on space-enabled technologies. The protection of space assets accelerator aims to keep space-enabled technologies safe from hazards such as space debris and space weather. At the Space Summit, Ministers invited public organisations and commercial space companies to register their intention to sign a Zero Debris Charter in the coming few months.

Asserting Europe’s rightful place in the world

The world stands at a pivotal point in space exploration. Over the past few years, the landscape has changed fundamentally. It will evolve even more quickly in the years to come: a new economy is developing in low Earth orbit that will transform space exploration in the years following the retirement of the International Space Station; and private companies are revolutionising the landscape from launchers to exploration.

At the Space Summit, Ministers launched a competition between innovative companies based in Europe to deliver a space cargo return service that will see a European commercial provider deliver supplies to the International Space Station by 2028 and return cargo to Earth. The service vehicle could evolve to a crew vehicle and eventually serve other destinations, if Member States so desire.

Public funding for the initial stages of the project has already been secured, with private contributions being sought through the competition. The second phase will form part of the proposals to the next ESA Council meeting at the Ministerial level in 2025. By taking a decision at today’s Space Summit, ESA can start work immediately to meet the ambitious 2028 milestone.

The Ariane 6 and Vega-C launchers will soon guarantee European access to space, but the launcher market paradigm has changed radically. Europe must maintain the technical and industrial capacity for uninterrupted access to space.

Ministers have launched a new competitive European ambition in space transportation to empower Europe to regain its commercial position, reduce the need for public funding and retain its place in the world by making ESA an anchor customer and enabler of commercial space activities and services.

Next steps

ESA will work in partnership with the EU to coordinate the European demand for space services, demonstrating ESA’s role as the agency at the heart of Europe’s space ambitions.

Today’s decisions were passed by a resolution informed by the ESA Director General’s proposal to lift Europe’s ambitions for a green and sustainable future, access to space and space exploration.

They represent a further important step towards the Council meeting at Ministerial level to be held in 2025. The ESA Director General will propose an “ESA 2040” strategy to be prepared together with ESA Member States, which will be ready in early 2024 to serve as a foundation for the 2025 meeting.

Online FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: European launcher policy
« Reply #12 on: 11/07/2023 05:22 am »
https://twitter.com/nasaspaceflight/status/1721600944100569499

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Interesting use of language here. Arianespace call it a very strong commitment. The ESA release says:

"The Ariane 6 and Vega-C launchers will soon guarantee European access to space, but the launcher market paradigm has changed radically. Europe must maintain the technical and industrial capacity for uninterrupted access to space."

Reads like ESA is already stressing the need to look past Ariane 6 and to the reusable rockets which are already in a dev phase, all while mentioning the gap between Ariane 5 and 6. The "but", right after citing Ariane 6 and Vega-C, surprised me per ESA's release.

Online FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: European launcher policy
« Reply #13 on: 11/07/2023 05:28 am »
https://twitter.com/pbdes/status/1721630345001390516

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.@esa governments OK $365M/year in exploitation support for #ariane6, $22.5M/year for Vega-C; @ArianeGroup agrees to ~11% Ariane 6 cost reduction; @Avio_Group to take over Vega commercialization from @Arianespace. @CNES @ASI_spazio @DLR_SpaceAgency.


https://www.spaceintelreport.com/esa-governments-ok-365m-year-in-ariane-6-rocket-support-avio-to-take-over-vega-commercialization-from-arianespace/

Offline leovinus

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Re: European launcher policy
« Reply #14 on: 11/07/2023 09:06 pm »
After the sting of Ariane 6, Europe finally embraces commercial rockets
A new deal keeps the Ariane 6 rocket afloat while looking ahead to new launchers.
https://arstechnica.com/space/2023/11/after-the-sting-of-ariane-6-europe-finally-embraces-commercial-rockets/

Interesting developments at ESA and Europe to aim to commercialize launcher acquisition. While I know a few startup names in Germany for rockets and the article mentions a few companies in the UK, I am curious about what role these British startup can play anyway? The UK chose to leave Europe but are part of ESA it seems which would lead to ... interesting negotiations and competitions?

For example, would British startups be eligible for EU money to build rockets to offer to ESA? Or are they on their own without EU money?

Offline deltaV

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Re: European launcher policy
« Reply #15 on: 11/08/2023 01:22 pm »
After the sting of Ariane 6, Europe finally embraces commercial rockets
A new deal keeps the Ariane 6 rocket afloat while looking ahead to new launchers.
https://arstechnica.com/space/2023/11/after-the-sting-of-ariane-6-europe-finally-embraces-commercial-rockets/

That sounds promising with caveats:

* It sounds like they won't specify requirements such as minimum payload so they're unlikely to get launchers big enough to replace Ariane 6. So they're still just trying to get companies practice developing launch vehicles with the competition for a Ariane 6 replacement to hopefully follow later. This may be the right approach but it will take a long time.

* They don't have funding yet so none of these decisions are really final.


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Re: European launcher policy
« Reply #16 on: 11/08/2023 07:07 pm »
https://twitter.com/nasaspaceflight/status/1722325179504767281

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Covering the ESA Council meeting as they work through the gap in capability between Ariane 5 and 6 while placing a large amount of focus on future vehicles.

By Karin Sturm (@sturmf1)

https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2023/11/paradigm-shift-european-spaceflight/

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Summit cites Paradigm Shift for European Spaceflight
written by Karin Sturm November 8, 2023
 
The ESA-EU Space Summit at Seville/Spain on November 6/7 focused on the need to evolve the future of the European Space Agency (ESA) and European spaceflight in general.

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