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  Arianespace Ariane 5 vs. SpaceX Falcon 9/Heavy

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Author Topic:   Arianespace Ariane 5 vs. SpaceX Falcon 9/Heavy
SpaceAholic
Member

Posts: 3023
From: Sierra Vista, Arizona
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 11-19-2012 09:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Elon Musk is writing Ariane 5's obituatory:
The Californian SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk has warned Europe it must replace its Ariane 5 rocket if it wants to keep up with his company.

The low prices the US entrepreneur is quoting for his new Falcon 9 vehicle mean it is winning contracts that in the past would have gone to Ariane.

Mr Musk said that the cost of producing the current European rocket would kill it as a commercial entity.

"Ariane 5 has no chance," he told BBC News.

SkyMan1958
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Posts: 355
From: CA.
Registered: Jan 2011

posted 11-19-2012 10:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SkyMan1958   Click Here to Email SkyMan1958     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It seems foolish to me to stick a finger in your competitor's eye. Why poke a potentially sleeping giant? In my opinion, it's better to fly under the radar and let the Ariane potentially fall completely out of the competition.

cspg
Member

Posts: 4046
From: Geneva, Switzerland
Registered: May 2006

posted 11-19-2012 11:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The issue here is not technology but exchange rate policies (USD v. Euro). The US is letting the dollar fall; the Germans want a strong Euro.

If Airbus is going to assemble planes in the US, maybe it's time to do the same with Ariane. Then Elon Musk will begin to have sleepless nights!

quote:
Originally posted by SkyMan1958:
In my opinion, it's better to fly under the radar...
With stealth rockets?

This could be fun. Except in the Middle East.

dom
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Posts: 439
From:
Registered: Aug 2001

posted 11-19-2012 12:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dom   Click Here to Email dom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A potentially premature comment from Musk. Does he not remember what the Ariane rocket did to NASA's big plans for the Space Shuttle!

Jay Chladek
Member

Posts: 2211
From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 11-19-2012 12:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't believe Musk is taking into account the up-mass capability of the Ariane 5 compared to Falcon 9 as the Ariane can fly almost double the mass of the Falcon. Although, considering how the question was asked, it likely isn't a factor. But, Falcon 9 Heavy is still in development while Ariane V is a mature system.

I believe Ariane has also shown the capability of launching mulitple satellite payloads on one launch (similar to Titan III and IV with trans stage capability) while Falcon 9 launches one at a time (unless they are small payloads). That can lower the payload cost a bit, although it does mean mission scheduling has to get a bit more creative.

Sure, Ariane V is a big system and is probably running into the same issues early shuttle had with commercial satellite launches versus the Ariane I through 4 series, but ESA have been at this game for quite awhile and have a pretty good idea what they needed their boosters for. Plus, until an Ariane 6 gets developed, ESA at last check had also built a launch facility for a Russian Soyuz class rocket in French Guiyana and successfully launched one late last year. That booster operates in a range and power class similar to Falcon 9 and launching from a facility closer to the equator means more up-mass capability as well.

In any event, I wouldn't be planning for Ariane V's funeral just yet.

cspg
Member

Posts: 4046
From: Geneva, Switzerland
Registered: May 2006

posted 11-19-2012 01:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Jay Chladek:
In any event, I wouldn't be planning for Ariane V's funeral just yet.
To be decided Tuesday and Wednesday in Naples, Italy, where ESA ministers will hold a summit. Choice: upgrade Ariane 5 (more powerful upper stage, restartable) or Ariane 6 (low-cost, 1 satellite launcher). Here's a French article about this (easily translatable).

Jay Chladek
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Posts: 2211
From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 11-20-2012 01:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well, if ESA is smart, they will go with the German plan for Ariane 5 ME. To stop work and go right to an Ariane 6 now seems like a bit of an abrupt about face and losing a capability they already have. Extend the capabilities of Ariane 5 and improve its potential use before going to the next booster seems smarter than what the French representatives are proposing.

Even if Ariane 5 did get shelved, I would hope they keep the tooling in place for the boosters in case they felt a need in the future to start up production once again when the launch market is a little less lean.

garymilgrom
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Posts: 1571
From: Atlanta, GA, USA
Registered: Feb 2007

posted 11-20-2012 05:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for garymilgrom   Click Here to Email garymilgrom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
According to a Google translate version of this page the ME designation stands for Midlife Evolution.

Who but the French would name a rocket like that?!

I agree with Jay's assessment - it's less expensive and makes more sense to me to upgrade what works instead of starting over.

cspg
Member

Posts: 4046
From: Geneva, Switzerland
Registered: May 2006

posted 11-20-2012 07:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by garymilgrom:
Who but the French would name a rocket like that?!
I do sense there's a joke from your point but I don't get it. And nobody said it's the French who came up with this term.
quote:
I agree with Jay's assessment - it's less expensive and makes more sense to me to upgrade what works instead of starting over.
Something that apparently has eluded U.S. elected representatives over the past, well, 40 years?

Jurvetson
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Posts: 38
From: Menlo Park, CA, United States
Registered: Sep 2011

posted 11-20-2012 09:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jurvetson     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I read this in Space News
French Sen. Bruno Sido said to compare the SpaceX facility with the equivalent manufacturing operation of the Ariane 5 rocket, some of which is done in Les Mureaux, France, is to become fearful for the future of Europe’s launch vehicle autonomy.

“Visiting Les Mureaux is like entering an impressive laboratory,” Sido said in a press briefing here. “Visiting SpaceX, which occupies an old factory that once belonged to Boeing, is like entering IKEA. This company has already won many contracts, is well-supported by NASA and is building a low-cost launcher that constitutes a real and serious threat.”

He said Europe’s Ariane 5 rocket, which still needs 120 million euros ($160 million) per year in government support payments to maintain financial equilibrium, cannot suffer any loss of its current 50 percent share of the global commercial market.

...French Sen. Catherine Procaccia, who co-authored the report with Sido, said today’s Europe cannot afford to develop a more powerful Ariane 5, called Ariane 5 Midlife Evolution (ME), and start development of Ariane 6 at the same time. She said Ariane 5 ME does not address the commercial-viability issues of the current Ariane 5.

And taking a peek at SpaceX's "every day low prices" page. I see that they list the Falcon Heavy as having more than two times the lift capacity as the Ariane 5 ES at about one half the cost.

gliderpilotuk
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Posts: 3043
From: London, UK
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 11-20-2012 09:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for gliderpilotuk   Click Here to Email gliderpilotuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
"like entering IKEA" - Nice one - and we all know EXACTLY what he means by that!

Jay Chladek
Member

Posts: 2211
From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 11-21-2012 11:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well, when it comes to making sense on budgets, at least ESA seems to agree to budgets for more than a year as it seems like Ariane 5ME got the approval over Ariane 6 as apparently the decision was made to set ESA's budget for the next three years. Smart actually, very smart and I never had a doubt about developing the 5-ME over the 6.

I understand the French concerns, but SpaceX is still a relative newcomer and a wildcard. Sure, they have the sales of 40 commercial payload launches on their account books now, but they still have flown Falcon 9 less than five times and are currently trying to sort out their engine failure anomoly. After 15 to 20 successful launches, or even just 10, then I might start getting concerned on the eroding of market share. And that is just covering Falcon 9 itself since the Falcon 9 heavy configuration has yet to even roll out of the factory.

I also get the sense that SpaceX is banking a lot on their COTS contract as they seem to have put all their lot into Falcon 9 (since it is needed for Dragon) and have seemingly abandoned Falcon 1 entirely from what it looks like. Some people tend to not like European governments for subsidizing commercial interests, but one might very well consider SpaceX's relationship with NASA to be a form of government subsidy as well since they are using their contract money to continue development of a booster that can be used for more than just Dragon flights to the ISS.

Plus, while it hasn't been stated, I have to wonder if Ariane 6 being touted by the French might also be an attempt by them to get a little more of a research and development market share into the new booster. Ariane 5 is a relatively mature system and as a result, R&D costs for the ME version will likely be less than those for Ariane 6 (while Ariane 6 is shooting for improved operational costs verses Ariane 5). Considering the amount of subsidies being pumped into the European rocket industry by the EU, the French probably would LOVE to claim more Euros for themselves while the Germans probably went with the 5ME approach probably because they get more of the lions share of development and building funds for it.

cspg
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Posts: 4046
From: Geneva, Switzerland
Registered: May 2006

posted 11-22-2012 08:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Apparently both the upgraded Ariane 5 and its replacement have been approved.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 11-22-2012 08:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
According to ESA's press summary:
Ministers secured investments for the detailed definition studies of the new launcher Ariane 6 and the continuation of the development of Ariane 5 ME adapted, with the goal to develop as many commonalities as possible between the two launchers. These activities are funded for two years with a decision on the continuation of both launchers to be taken in 2014.
I don't believe this means that Ariane 6 has been approved but they are funding initial studies and are deferring the decision whether to proceed with its development until 2014.

All times are CT (US)

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