Author Topic: Impact of decision to fly European payloads on European launchers?  (Read 14202 times)

Offline Asteroza

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An important point is the Prometheus/Callisto work going on right now, dependent on japanese RVT results due this year. If that's effectively a skunkworks program to gain reuse tech while A6 is the face of ESA, then switch horses midstream to Callisto and accept the losses, then ESA has been playing everyone.

Online edkyle99

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Well... Ed. I think your post is spot on, current numbers wise, at least. However, the downplayed reusability numbers are on the verge of significantly changing in less than 12 months, and yet they're still mind changing! "Only recovered 60%, only reused 43%". That is something no one could say a few years  ago and only one outfit can say now & probably for a few more years. We're now on the precipice of full benefits of Block 5, I think you're largely wrong on how this plays out. I notice that you particularly seem to throw shade on SX exuberance, many times well warranted, but in terms of pure market power & reusability I don't think it's right. I'm likely in agreement with you on things like BFS, but I think you're not thinking right on how the next 5 years will go with Falcon on the market. The cost to SpaceX customers is going to remain in the sweet spot of undercutting competition and maximum profit for spaceX until, one, just one single launch provider can get to that level to add some pricing pressure.
It isn't clear to me that reusing first stages, or around half of them in real life, is the reason that SpaceX is offering lower prices than ULA and, maybe, Arianespace.  The reason for lower cost seems to me more likely to be the basic design of the rocket and the methods used to build it and especially its engines.  Essentially common propulsion in both stages.  No strap-on boosters.  Minimal subcontractors.  Etc.  (I wouldn't be surprised if one day we learn that reuse has actually added cost compared to a fully expendable "Falcon 6" or "7" alternative.)

Ariane 6 is Europe's attempt at lowering its launch costs through focused design/development.  I would argue that while a lower cost design might have been possible, reuse wouldn't have been the key path to get there. 

 - Ed Kyle   
« Last Edit: 11/06/2018 05:37 PM by edkyle99 »

Offline envy887

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Opportunity cost of developing another expendable launcher when reusable tech is obviously the right solution.
I'm doubtful.  How many times is Ariane 6 going to fly each year?  Six?  How many times annually does a reusable Ariane 6 equivalent need to fly to make reuse pay off?   The one company currently recovering first stages is launching around 18 to 20 per year (less next year), has only recovered stages on about 60% of its launches during the past two years, and has flown used stages on only about 43% of its launches during that span.  Meanwhile, I don't believe there is any evidence that its prices have gone down for its U.S. government customer.

 - Ed Kyle
How many times a year does Ariane 6 need to fly to pay off its investment vs Ariane 5? I calculate that at 6 per year, that’s about a decade, maybe 2 or 3 decades if you count opportunity cost and some interest rate. Remember, Ariane 6 starts over the reliability clock.And the fact that a reusable rocket can be optionally expended is an advantage, not a disadvantage.

A reusable rocket gives them also the opportunity to roll in Soyuz and even possibly Vega launches while still being affordable. Which has big cost advantages in consolidation as well. That ups the effective flight rate to about 10 or more, since they’ll be cheaper to launch.

Weird to me how hard smart people try to handicap reuse.

Ariane 6 is only going to be cost competitive with dual manifest (and possibly direct to GEO).

Since this is the case, they could immediately double the flight rate by flying a smaller vehicle with single payloads. They can do this for all GTO launches and also for Galileo launches.

Roll in Soyuz launches and a few (or all?) Vega launches, and the flight could easily be 15-20 rather than 6.

Offline Chasm

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I think there are two areas where the success of the Ariane 6 program must be measured:
Does it get the customer price -and internal cost!- of a launch close enough to the competition?
Are the investments into infrastructure, esp. on the manufacturing side, useful for the next generation of launchers?


Yes, going reusable means twice the amount of launches over Ariane 5 since Ariane NEXT performance of 3t GTO is rather low. Since we are introducing sweeping changes it should get all of the Vega business too. Vega-C is getting too close in performance. This first stage is supposed to fly 3 times.

Then there is the Ariane NEXT version with liquid boosters that brings back A5 performance of 10t GTO but it is disposable everything. No reuse of the P120C sized liquids. No central core reuse, 4th and final flight for it. (Good luck getting that one back anyway. Good luck finding 3 small launches for every big launch too.)


3t GTO / 5t LEO is not much. I think that is way too small. What are they going to launch other than a shrunk version of OBH SmallGEO platform? Hispasat AG1 was 3221kg according to Gunter's Space Page.

Offline ZachF

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Kind of expensive development if it's just a mod of Ariane 5, isn't it?

That's the problem people have with Ariane 6. Opportunity cost of developing another expendable launcher when reusable tech is obviously the right solution.

I favor flying out Ariane 5 while developing a reusable replacement.

Not if it lowers costs. Ariane 5 isn't cheap. Sometimes a stop gap solution is all you have at the moment, and you need it to stay afloat. Do you see a RLV of equal readyness that they could have chosen instead? No... Not even close.

Insisting that they fly out Ariane 5 until... when?... does not make sense. Especially when there is no end date in sight, and there won't be for many years.

Of course if Ariane 6 ends up not lowering costs, then it will have been in vain.

The way that the Ariane 6 design lowers costs is primarily replacing the A5, Soyuz, and Vega with a system that shares parts commonality between them all, spreading fixed manufacturing costs across a larger range of products.

The problem is, if the system as a whole does not get a certain flight rate, then those cost savings vis-a-vis the Ariane 5 do not materialize.

There is probably not enough demand for ~10 A6 launches a year at the prices they are asking, even with the lower prices.... Hence the increasing requests for a "buy European" policy. A6.2 is completely uncompetitive. A6.4 is potentially competitive with dual manifest, but there are a glut of GEO launch service offerings coming in similar or better prices, while the GEO market as a whole is declining.

And of course, with SpaceX finally banking large amounts of cash from re-usability, they could potentially lower prices further. A Falcon 9 launch price of $40 million puts Arianespace's entire product lineup in the "Uncompetitive" area... Something that might happen if they get in a price war with another re-usable provider.

Offline Rik ISS-fan

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 Since many people are making snarky comments, I'll let go my filter as well.
Many state that Ariane 6, especially the A62 will be non-competitive on price. If you look at US Institutional launches this is just wrong.
Ariane 62 will launch two GALILEO satellites, AFAIK cost are still unknown. F9 GPSIII launches cost >$95mln per sat.
One of the Vega qualification launches was LISA Pathfinder, launch cost 35mln. F9 TESS 87mln.
SWOT a 2000kg SSO satellite will be launched by F9 in 2021 for $112mln. That could also have been launched by a Vega-C for 35mln.
Do I have to present more examples.

So Falcon 9 for the US institutional market is REALLY EXPANSIVE. Maybe you on the other side of the Atlantic should focus on that!

I've not seen launch contract values for many commercial missions. The only one for SpX is the Iridium constellation $492mln for 7 launches. 
I would really like to know the cost for the two F9 launches for SARah (1, 2&3). This is a nice one to compare with Ariane 62 launch cost.

Then on the re-usability part. I really think that it has only added cost for SpaceX, their (possible) benefits are still in the future. They initially invested 500mln in Falcon 9 (V1.0), they have at least invested tripple this amount additionally  to get to the Block 5. And each rocket they build is more expansive because it has double electronics, and additional equipment for stage recovery.
What was the Falcon 9 production capability of the Hawthorne factory?
Did Musk & co fail also on getting the Falcon 9 production right, just as Tesla is failing with the Tesla III? {Sorry}

The choice for European institutions in 2014 was:
A) Keep relying on (unreliable cost & scheduling wise) foreign launchers (Soyuz and Falcon 9).
And developing A5ME for 1,5 billion to keep Ariane a bit competitive.
B) Developing Ariane 6 for 3,4 billion that can replace both Ariane 5 and Soyuz for institutional payloads. With launch cost reduction of 10mln for each Soyuz payload, 25mln for Ariane 5 ride share (GTO), or 50mln for a dedicated A5 launch. They (ESA / Germany) didn't even account for the >40mln cost reduction when a Soyuz is replaced by a Vega-C (Sentinel 1; CSG).
AFAIK ESA member-states already committed 100% of the development budget. And 65% of the development payments have already happened. So the point of no return has been long overdue.

I think many small satellite operators will be very happy with the Vega-C and Ariane 6 ride share options.
In my opinion it's far to early to tell if the launch offering of Arianespace will be cost competitive.
{Sorry for the negative tone in this post, I know a more positive tone gives a beter forum experience.)

Offline envy887

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Since many people are making snarky comments, I'll let go my filter as well.
Many state that Ariane 6, especially the A62 will be non-competitive on price. If you look at US Institutional launches this is just wrong.
Ariane 62 will launch two GALILEO satellites, AFAIK cost are still unknown. F9 GPSIII launches cost >$95mln per sat.
One of the Vega qualification launches was LISA Pathfinder, launch cost 35mln. F9 TESS 87mln.
SWOT a 2000kg SSO satellite will be launched by F9 in 2021 for $112mln. That could also have been launched by a Vega-C for 35mln.
Do I have to present more examples.

So Falcon 9 for the US institutional market is REALLY EXPANSIVE. Maybe you on the other side of the Atlantic should focus on that!

I've not seen launch contract values for many commercial missions. The only one for SpX is the Iridium constellation $492mln for 7 launches. 
I would really like to know the cost for the two F9 launches for SARah (1, 2&3). This is a nice one to compare with Ariane 62 launch cost.

Then on the re-usability part. I really think that it has only added cost for SpaceX, their (possible) benefits are still in the future. They initially invested 500mln in Falcon 9 (V1.0), they have at least invested tripple this amount additionally  to get to the Block 5. And each rocket they build is more expansive because it has double electronics, and additional equipment for stage recovery.
What was the Falcon 9 production capability of the Hawthorne factory?
Did Musk & co fail also on getting the Falcon 9 production right, just as Tesla is failing with the Tesla III? {Sorry}

The choice for European institutions in 2014 was:
A) Keep relying on (unreliable cost & scheduling wise) foreign launchers (Soyuz and Falcon 9).
And developing A5ME for 1,5 billion to keep Ariane a bit competitive.
B) Developing Ariane 6 for 3,4 billion that can replace both Ariane 5 and Soyuz for institutional payloads. With launch cost reduction of 10mln for each Soyuz payload, 25mln for Ariane 5 ride share (GTO), or 50mln for a dedicated A5 launch. They (ESA / Germany) didn't even account for the >40mln cost reduction when a Soyuz is replaced by a Vega-C (Sentinel 1; CSG).
AFAIK ESA member-states already committed 100% of the development budget. And 65% of the development payments have already happened. So the point of no return has been long overdue.

I think many small satellite operators will be very happy with the Vega-C and Ariane 6 ride share options.
In my opinion it's far to early to tell if the launch offering of Arianespace will be cost competitive.
{Sorry for the negative tone in this post, I know a more positive tone gives a beter forum experience.)

I don't think you understand the "competitive" part of "A62 will be non-competitive".

Ariane CANNOT compete for US institutional payloads. It's pointless to even compare them. Those payloads are captive to US vehicles. Even if they could, the price would not be the same as a commercial or EU institutional launch because US government payloads have additional verification requirements.

If Ariane wants to compete commercially with A62, they have to compete with the commercial prices offered by US providers. That means less than $70 million (at most!) for 5500 kg to GTO or similar performance. Also, A62 can only launch 2x Galileo because they are much lighter as a pair than a single GPS IIIA satellite.

You are right that SpaceX's advertised prices haven't dropped much with reuse. But I don't see any evidence that A62 can compete with expended F9. It certainly has lower performance, and most likely higher cost as well.

And F9 is no longer being expended as much as SpaceX can help it...
« Last Edit: 11/07/2018 06:05 PM by envy887 »

Offline ZachF

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Since many people are making snarky comments, I'll let go my filter as well.
Many state that Ariane 6, especially the A62 will be non-competitive on price. If you look at US Institutional launches this is just wrong.
Ariane 62 will launch two GALILEO satellites, AFAIK cost are still unknown. F9 GPSIII launches cost >$95mln per sat.
One of the Vega qualification launches was LISA Pathfinder, launch cost 35mln. F9 TESS 87mln.
SWOT a 2000kg SSO satellite will be launched by F9 in 2021 for $112mln. That could also have been launched by a Vega-C for 35mln.
Do I have to present more examples.

So Falcon 9 for the US institutional market is REALLY EXPANSIVE. Maybe you on the other side of the Atlantic should focus on that!

I've not seen launch contract values for many commercial missions. The only one for SpX is the Iridium constellation $492mln for 7 launches. 
I would really like to know the cost for the two F9 launches for SARah (1, 2&3). This is a nice one to compare with Ariane 62 launch cost.

Then on the re-usability part. I really think that it has only added cost for SpaceX, their (possible) benefits are still in the future. They initially invested 500mln in Falcon 9 (V1.0), they have at least invested tripple this amount additionally  to get to the Block 5. And each rocket they build is more expansive because it has double electronics, and additional equipment for stage recovery.
What was the Falcon 9 production capability of the Hawthorne factory?
Did Musk & co fail also on getting the Falcon 9 production right, just as Tesla is failing with the Tesla III? {Sorry}

The choice for European institutions in 2014 was:
A) Keep relying on (unreliable cost & scheduling wise) foreign launchers (Soyuz and Falcon 9).
And developing A5ME for 1,5 billion to keep Ariane a bit competitive.
B) Developing Ariane 6 for 3,4 billion that can replace both Ariane 5 and Soyuz for institutional payloads. With launch cost reduction of 10mln for each Soyuz payload, 25mln for Ariane 5 ride share (GTO), or 50mln for a dedicated A5 launch. They (ESA / Germany) didn't even account for the >40mln cost reduction when a Soyuz is replaced by a Vega-C (Sentinel 1; CSG).
AFAIK ESA member-states already committed 100% of the development budget. And 65% of the development payments have already happened. So the point of no return has been long overdue.

I think many small satellite operators will be very happy with the Vega-C and Ariane 6 ride share options.
In my opinion it's far to early to tell if the launch offering of Arianespace will be cost competitive.
{Sorry for the negative tone in this post, I know a more positive tone gives a beter forum experience.)

I don't think you understand the "competitive" part of "A62 will be non-competitive".

Ariane CANNOT compete for US institutional payloads. It's pointless to even compare them. Those payloads are captive to US vehicles. Even if they could, the price would not be the same as a commercial or EU institutional launch because US government payloads have additional verification requirements.

If Ariane wants to compete commercially with A62, they have to compete with the commercial prices offered by US providers. That means less than $70 million (at most!) for 5500 kg to GTO or similar performance. Also, A62 can only launch 2x Galileo because they are much lighter as a pair than a single GPS IIIA satellite.

You are right that SpaceX's advertised prices haven't dropped much with reuse. But I don't see any evidence that A62 can compete with expended F9. It certainly has lower performance, and most likely higher cost as well.

And F9 is no longer being expended as much as SpaceX can help it...

People seem to not include both costs and prices into the equation of how competitive a launcher is.

SpaceX's costs are probably $50m for expended, single re-use probably drops this to $40m, and multi-reuse could probably drop it to $30m.

Ariane 6 needs 10+ launches to make those advertised prices be less than the cost, and in order to do this, it looks like European governments are going to have to buy 5+ launches a year at above market prices....after already ponying up $4 billion in development costs.

SpaceX has a large pricing margin, while Arianespace has none at current demand levels, ergo the A6 is not competitive. Worst comes to worst, SpaceX can lower prices, Arianespace can't. Falcon 9 at $40m/launch, something it may be able to do and still make a profit, would price out Arianespace's entire lineup.

Offline Rik ISS-fan

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People seem to not include both costs and prices into the equation of how competitive a launcher is.

SpaceX's costs are probably $50m for expended, single re-use probably drops this to $40m, and multi-reuse could probably drop it to $30m.

Ariane 6 needs 10+ launches to make those advertised prices be less than the cost, and in order to do this, it looks like European governments are going to have to buy 5+ launches a year at above market prices....after already ponying up $4 billion in development costs.

SpaceX has a large pricing margin, while Arianespace has none at current demand levels, ergo the A6 is not competitive. Worst comes to worst, SpaceX can lower prices, Arianespace can't. Falcon 9 at $40m/launch, something it may be able to do and still make a profit, would price out Arianespace's entire lineup.

I agree that the production cost could be a problem for Ariane 6. But AFAIK the numbers you post for Falcon 9 could be of by a factor of 1,5 to 2. I would like to know your sources for these numbers.
May I also see this post as confirmation that SpaceX invested a lot to make Falcon 9 reusable while the cost reduction isn't large.
You've also missed taking into account Vega, the 35mln launch price is for a low launch rate. (cost is lower)

For European governments that decided to fund Ariane 6 (and Vega C), they try to get high tech jobs inside their country. A maximum of 8 Ariane 5 rockets could be build annually, with dated production processes. For Ariane 6 they build new factories with very advanced and automated production processes with annual production capability for 12 launches.
Then there is also:
- the obligation to sustain solid rocket production capability.
- the non availability of a restartable HydroCarbon (CxHx) first stage engine.
- the non availability of production and stowage facilities for hydrocarbon fuels at CSG.
- the many different interest of the ESA memberstates. (Example [I missed several launches]).

The idea for the buy European launchers act is to generate some fixed demand to sustain the production facilities.
The Symphony debacle and US sanction to Iran are examples that show that Europe needs it's own launchers.
Another example is the delay of the CSO 1 launch. (Why is a France spysat the launch that has to be delayed?!)
I wouldn't be surprised if the US denies Europe to launch a military comsat or spysat technology when we (European Institutions) rely on foreign launch services.
 ??? Without a second thought USA institutions are justified to have a >1,5x more expansive launch services.
Why can't European institutions allowed to pay a little bit more on their critical national space projects?

Offline Chasm

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My main problem with A62 is that another €20 million buys you an A64 with twice the performance.

€15 million for two flight ready P120C
€4 million for the SYLDA
€1 to bolt on the additional parts and rounding reserve ;)

All the other parts are identical. A pessimistic paper price since the usual difference is €15 million just for the two P120C.


My idea to upgrade them all to A64 and sticking at least a Space Rider including AVUM in every top slot is facetious. Happens to be competitively priced too unless Vega-E turns out to be really cheap...  :(


That said I think A62 close enough in price to Soyuz at CSG. A62 beats Soyuz performance nicely. For smaller stuff Vega-C happens to have half the Soyuz performance and adds pressure from below.
Close enough for government work.  :)

Offline GreenShrike

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May I also see this post as confirmation that SpaceX invested a lot to make Falcon 9 reusable while the cost reduction isn't large.

As you should well know, cost data is SpaceX proprietary information. SpaceX knows, and no one else. There's no confirmation to be had, just guesses. About the best we do know is Shotwell saying refurbishment is substantially less than half the cost of a new stage.

For the sake of argument, let's assume SpaceX makes no money on a $60M launch, and that the first stage is 2/3rds the cost.  The first stage, then, costs $40M. From Shotwell, refurbishment is thus substantially less than $20M and, conversely, SpaceX saves substantially more than $20M per flight with a reused core. If we assume that refurbishment plus depreciation equals half of the first stage's cost, then if SpaceX made no money before, they're now making money on any flight sold for >$40M.

Or, I guess, Shotwell was lying.

Why can't European institutions allowed to pay a little bit more on their critical national space projects?

Absolutely no reason. If Europe wants to spend taxpayer money on guaranteeing European access to space, no one can gainsay them. They are free to throw as much money at the problem as they like.

They are also free to mandate that European institutional payloads fly on European rockets, to guarantee demand for those rockets and spread fixed costs over a greater number of flights, even if it means European governments will be paying more per launch than simply flying on the cheapest rocket that'll do the job, be it foreign or domestic.

I do understand pride, and if I had an orbital rocket program, I know I'd not want to give it up like poor Britain did. And there are valid reasons beyond pride to maintain a European launch system because, hey, it's vaguely possible that the US might for whatever reason decide they don't want to take European money to launch their birds.

I mean, *I'd* personally not stress very much over the US refusing to fly European payloads, because I'm quite certain that Chinese LM-5/6/7, Japanese H3 and Indian GSLV rockets will stand ready to launch whatever needs launching in exchange for cold, hard Euros. Oh -- Russia, too, of course, with whatever their 2020+ commercial offering ends up being. A competitive international marketplace for launch goes a long way towards mitigating not being able to get a launch from a single given provider -- this isn't the 1970s, you know. ;-)


Nevertheless, while such an international marketplace is a boon for those looking for launches, it also means that there won't be much worry amongst GEO sat operators about a monopoly launch situation.

I mean, pre-Falcon 9 when Proton and A5 were the only reasonably priced choices -- with H2 and Atlas having priced themselves out of the market, China being an ITAR nightmare, and PSLV too small to put much into GTO -- sure I could understand profit-driven corporations spending more money than absolutely required on a somewhat higher priced second source, just to make certain that they were never stuck with a single launch provider. "Assured access" and all that.

But in the 2020's, it seems we're going to be utterly spoiled: $50M for an H3 launch of around an F9's capability; India looking to market dirt-cheap GSLVs as well as PSLVs, while looking to increase GSLV's capacity; China's new generation of kerolox rockets; and multiple American providers, from rookies to veterans, all offering orbital rides on demand. (And, to be sure, by "veteran" I mean Falcon 9, whose launch record in 2020 will be looking to surpass Ariane 5's, and have left Atlas 5's in the dust. Blue would be the rookie, and that old hand ULA will be bending its experience to working the kinks out of a squeaky new, unproven rocket, just like ArianeGroup.)


With this in mind, the point of contention with regards to competitiveness, then, is that ArianeGroup apparently feels it needs guaranteed European institutional demand just to meet the prices it's previously announced. If A6 profitability is such a close-run thing that a handful of yearly European institutional launches is going to make-or-break it, then costs are only a little below pricing, and thus there's very little latitude in the A6 program to reduce prices should market competition warrant it.

With no commercial need to pay a cent extra for launch just to avoid a potential monopoly, Ariane 6 will then be needing to stand on its own pricing, schedule availability and history of reliability when competing for launches on the commercial market. And if A6 looks shaky against 2018's competitive pricing, then I think ArianeGroup will find the early 2020's with its several new (Blue/ISRO) or newly-competitive (JAXA/ULA) commercial launch offerings to be "interesting times" indeed.

Don't think Ariane versus SpaceX, think Ariane versus the world.

Which, again, is perfectly fine -- Europe has every right to spend its money on a domestic launcher. I just think the privilege will end up costing more than currently believed.
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Offline envy887

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People seem to not include both costs and prices into the equation of how competitive a launcher is.

SpaceX's costs are probably $50m for expended, single re-use probably drops this to $40m, and multi-reuse could probably drop it to $30m.

Ariane 6 needs 10+ launches to make those advertised prices be less than the cost, and in order to do this, it looks like European governments are going to have to buy 5+ launches a year at above market prices....after already ponying up $4 billion in development costs.

SpaceX has a large pricing margin, while Arianespace has none at current demand levels, ergo the A6 is not competitive. Worst comes to worst, SpaceX can lower prices, Arianespace can't. Falcon 9 at $40m/launch, something it may be able to do and still make a profit, would price out Arianespace's entire lineup.

I agree that the production cost could be a problem for Ariane 6. But AFAIK the numbers you post for Falcon 9 could be of by a factor of 1,5 to 2. I would like to know your sources for these numbers.
May I also see this post as confirmation that SpaceX invested a lot to make Falcon 9 reusable while the cost reduction isn't large.
You've also missed taking into account Vega, the 35mln launch price is for a low launch rate. (cost is lower)

Vega is comparable to Minotaur/Pegasus which are available to US institutions but are infrequently used, and have virtually no commercial presence.

If a hypothetical ArianeNext had a single launch cost equal to A64 double berthed per sat (~$50 million) the gain from launching Vega is only ~$15 million per launch. At 3 launches per year, it will take 9 years before that differential pays back the $400 million required to develop Vega C. And such a vehicle would have a trivially easy time launching Vega payloads, meaning low stresses on the booster, meaning faster cheaper refurbishment, meaning those launches could eventually even cost less than Vega.

This is why a vehicle that could single-launch heavy single A64 payloads (~7.5 tonnes to GTO) expendably, but launch A62, Soyuz, and Vega payloads with booster recovery would be effective. It still has the advantages of high production rates and tech jobs and all that, and is even better at commonizing hardware between vehicles since it's the exact same vehicle.

Also, you are conflating cost and price. SpaceX claims that a new booster is ~65% of a ~$60M launch cost, and that a used booster is "considerably less than half" the cost of a new booster. That leads to a simple estimation that a launch on a used booster costs SpaceX about $40 million, perhaps less. That the price hasn't changed much (now about $50 million, if you take Musk at his word) is indicative of the market, not of the cost.

The lack of infrastructure at Kourou for a reusable hydrocarbon vehicle, and the lack of a reusable hydrocarbon engine, are good points. But the 5 years and $5 billion spend on A6 would have gone a long way to filling those needs.

Quote
??? Without a second thought USA institutions are justified to have a >1,5x more expansive launch services.
Why can't European institutions allowed to pay a little bit more on their critical national space projects?

How many institutional launches does Ariane 6 need to do before the development cost+launch cost drops below 1.5x launch cost? Assuming they are all A62 at $85 million per launch, then I get 117 institutional launches. Since the majority of their manifest is commercial, that should only take 25+ years. So don't worry, Europe certainly will be paying "a little bit more" than the commercial price to launch on Ariane 6, once you factor in the development costs.

Not that there is anything wrong with spending on a national asset, but Ariane built the wrong architecture to spend it on if they wanted that national asset to also be commercially competitive (without subsidy) over the next 15 years. That is why they need either guaranteed subsidy or guaranteed launches now...
« Last Edit: 11/08/2018 12:39 PM by envy887 »

Offline envy887

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Well... Ed. I think your post is spot on, current numbers wise, at least. However, the downplayed reusability numbers are on the verge of significantly changing in less than 12 months, and yet they're still mind changing! "Only recovered 60%, only reused 43%". That is something no one could say a few years  ago and only one outfit can say now & probably for a few more years. We're now on the precipice of full benefits of Block 5, I think you're largely wrong on how this plays out. I notice that you particularly seem to throw shade on SX exuberance, many times well warranted, but in terms of pure market power & reusability I don't think it's right. I'm likely in agreement with you on things like BFS, but I think you're not thinking right on how the next 5 years will go with Falcon on the market. The cost to SpaceX customers is going to remain in the sweet spot of undercutting competition and maximum profit for spaceX until, one, just one single launch provider can get to that level to add some pricing pressure.
It isn't clear to me that reusing first stages, or around half of them in real life, is the reason that SpaceX is offering lower prices than ULA and, maybe, Arianespace.  The reason for lower cost seems to me more likely to be the basic design of the rocket and the methods used to build it and especially its engines.  Essentially common propulsion in both stages.  No strap-on boosters.  Minimal subcontractors.  Etc. ...

Anyone with two eyes can see that, Ed. SpaceX was offering lower prices (and still making an operating profit!) before they even recovered, never mind reused, a booster.

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(I wouldn't be surprised if one day we learn that reuse has actually added cost compared to a fully expendable "Falcon 6" or "7" alternative.)

Why? They still have many launches that would have excess performance even with a smaller vehicle, but they wouldn't be able to use that excess performance to get a ~$40 million asset back intact. Or ~$27 million asset in the case of a "Falcon 6". And they wouldn't be able to use the full expendable performance if a particularly large payload or engine failure required it. How much would failing to orbit CRS-1 have cost SpaceX?

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Ariane 6 is Europe's attempt at lowering its launch costs through focused design/development.  I would argue that while a lower cost design might have been possible, reuse wouldn't have been the key path to get there. 

 - Ed Kyle   

Entirely agree with that. But it's entirely possible to lower "launch costs through focused design/development" while at the same time perfecting operational reuse. SpaceX has proven that.

And reuse is about the future market. It gives the ability to lower costs further once "focused design/development" etc. have done all they can. And also to snag a handsome profit once you can operationally reuse while the rest of the market can't. ArianeNext will be 10-15 years late to that market.

Offline john smith 19

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Absolutely no reason. If Europe wants to spend taxpayer money on guaranteeing European access to space, no one can gainsay them. They are free to throw as much money at the problem as they like.
Just as the USG has done with the EELV programme in fact.
Quote from: GreenShrike
They are also free to mandate that European institutional payloads fly on European rockets, to guarantee demand for those rockets and spread fixed costs over a greater number of flights, even if it means European governments will be paying more per launch than simply flying on the cheapest rocket that'll do the job, be it foreign or domestic.
That also sounds rather like what the USG mandates for USG funded payloads.
Quote from: GreenShrike
I do understand pride, and if I had an orbital rocket program, I know I'd not want to give it up like poor Britain did.
Basically because a committee composed of
an anatomist, A nuclear physicist, a botanist, an electrical engineer, an aeronautical engineer, a classicist, an industrial chemist, an ornithologist, a medical researchers, an agronomist a physical chemist and 2 mathematicians decided the UK did not need an independent launch capability and those nice Americans would launch anything the UK needed. Besides, how many people really need to make transatlantic telephone calls anyway?

Still they kept the nukes (after a fashion) and that looks like it's working out real well for them.
BFS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of flying in Earth and Mars atmospheres. BFR. The worlds biggest Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured booster for BFS. First flight to Mars by end of 2022. Forward looking statements. T&C apply. Believe no one. Run your own numbers. So, you are going to Mars to start a better life? Picture it in your mind. Now say what it is out loud.

Offline Zed_Noir

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<snip>
ArianeNext will be 10-15 years late to that market.
Maybe they can fast tracked the original Ariane 6 PPH design concept as a lower cost launcher to replace the Ariane 62. Since the PPH design uses the same Vinci upper stage engine as the Ariane 6. Replaced the P145 with the P120 solid motors in the new launcher. Which will be a limited production run interim launcher for European Institutional payloads.

The Europeans will have to decide if they want to stay in the commercial launch market by developing a reusable Ariane 6 follow-on soon. The Ariane 62 & 64 seems to the Euro equivalent of the single stick Delta IV. It is obvious now that the Europeans miscalculated the viability of reusable launchers when replacing the Ariane 5.


Offline M129K

My main problem with A62 is that another €20 million buys you an A64 with twice the performance.
If your intent is launching commercial satellites to GTO, then yes, A62 probably isn't very competitive. But A62 is not intended for that market. Institutional payloads like military or scientific satellites usually require very specific orbits that are much harder to co-manifest, and having a slightly more expensive small launcher that can be easily scaled if the need for a bigger payload arises is almost certainly a more cost effective plan than designing a cheaper institutional launcher that can't launch anything above a Soyuz-class payload
« Last Edit: 11/09/2018 02:31 PM by M129K »

Offline envy887

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My main problem with A62 is that another €20 million buys you an A64 with twice the performance.
If your intent is launching commercial satellites to GTO, then yes, A62 probably isn't very competitive. But A62 is not intended for that market. Institutional payloads like military or scientific satellites usually require very specific orbits that are much harder to co-manifest, and having a slightly more expensive small launcher that can be easily scaled if the need for a bigger payload arises is almost certainly a more cost effective plan than designing a cheaper institutional launcher that can't launch anything above a Soyuz-class payload

I don't think that the A62-class PPH would be any cheaper than A62, since the A64 is being built anyway and the smaller PPH core stage would require modifications to GSE that the A62 does not need.

But speaking of PPH, is does illistruate that maintaining the solids industry is not mutually exclusive with a reuseable booster, since a hydrocarbon-solid-hydrogen configuration is possible. There are many rockets that use a solid upper stage, and even some that put a solid upper atop a liquid booster (e.g. Antares).

If may even be possible to make such a vehicle configurable to omit the solid stage (or the hydrogen 3rd stage), reducing capability but making the vehicle cheaper and still allowing recovery of the hydrocarbon booster. A hydrocarbon-solid 2-stage would get ~10x Vega's payload to SSO while expending only the fairing and P120C.

Offline M129K

Is it possible for ESA to develop a rocket with prometheus-powered reusable first stage and, say, a P120 second stage? Sure it is. Does it make any sense for them to do so? No, not at all.

Solid upper stage would give very lacklustre performance on the kind of missions that Ariane is designed for, which tend to require both precision and high energy. They didn't develop Vinci just because they felt like it.

Offline envy887

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Is it possible for ESA to develop a rocket with prometheus-powered reusable first stage and, say, a P120 second stage? Sure it is. Does it make any sense for them to do so? No, not at all.

Solid upper stage would give very lacklustre performance on the kind of missions that Ariane is designed for, which tend to require both precision and high energy. They didn't develop Vinci just because they felt like it.

It makes sense if ...

Then there is also:
- the obligation to sustain solid rocket production capability.

... exists.

Otherwise, not so much.

Performance with a solid 2nd stage is more than adequate. The Vinci upper stage could still be used as a 3rd stage for high energy orbits, but wouldn't be necessary for missions to SSO or LEO.
« Last Edit: 11/09/2018 10:38 PM by envy887 »

Offline john smith 19

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But speaking of PPH, is does illistruate that maintaining the solids industry is not mutually exclusive with a reuseable booster, since a hydrocarbon-solid-hydrogen configuration is possible.
True. It's just very complicated, with lots of failure modes and interactions. :(
Quote from: envy887
There are many rockets that use a solid upper stage, and even some that put a solid upper atop a liquid booster (e.g. Antares).
And in fact so did the British Black Arrow, where the Waxwing solid provided a substantial part of the delta V to orbit, with the first liquid stage providing quite limited delta V. However this was because the design was quite cost constrained and there was a contract to develop a solid rocket with a "Submerged" nozzle anyway.

If your intent is launching commercial satellites to GTO, then yes, A62 probably isn't very competitive. But A62 is not intended for that market. Institutional payloads like military or scientific satellites usually require very specific orbits that are much harder to co-manifest, and having a slightly more expensive small launcher that can be easily scaled if the need for a bigger payload arises is almost certainly a more cost effective plan than designing a cheaper institutional launcher that can't launch anything above a Soyuz-class payload
Exactly.

3 architectures (Ariane 5, Vega, Soyuz Kourou) become 1.

And if the payload mass grows a bit you can upgraded to A64 to deliver it, not re-host on another launcher.

TBH If ESA wanted to move ahead on a reusable 1st stage could (should?) have replaced the Vulcain 2.1 with a cluster of Vinci's. 8 of them would have given the same thrust as one Vulcain 2.1 with margin, but if you wanted an F9 arrangement that would have been 1 in the centre and 7 in a ring, which I suspect is a trickier control problem than 8 in a ring (but not inpossible, give Black Arrow managed with 4 pairs of engines that could only pivot, rather than XY gimbal).

However since CNES tends to follow US institutional design practices slavishly they will go with the "One big engine" approach for the foreseeable future.
BFS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of flying in Earth and Mars atmospheres. BFR. The worlds biggest Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured booster for BFS. First flight to Mars by end of 2022. Forward looking statements. T&C apply. Believe no one. Run your own numbers. So, you are going to Mars to start a better life? Picture it in your mind. Now say what it is out loud.

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