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Europe's new Ariane 6 rocket powers into space

276 points6 hoursesa.int
nabla95 hours ago

Ariane 6 exists so that European countries can get independent access to space between now and 2030s. The launch cost is almost 2x the cost of Falcon 9. Both platforms can lift 22t to LEO.

6-10 years from now Ariane Next/SALTO will aims replicate Falcon 9 efficiency and the design will be very similar: reusable, RP-1/LOX, Prometheus engine is similar reusable open cycle engine as Merlin with lots of 3D printed parts.

MrSkelter5 hours ago

Falcon’s costs are a fiction.

SpaceX benefits from massive taxpayer support and uses facilities built by the military and NASA.

It’s not a like for like comparison especially give SpaceX keeping its books private and giving no clear public indication of how reusable its rockets really are or their refurb cost.

Given Musks history of creative accounting quoting their PR numbers, the ones they pitch congress, as facts is naive in the extreme.

InTheArena2 hours ago

Having followed the launch industry for 30 years, I can safely tell you that this is the exact line that every competitor (save RocketLabs and the startups fueled by the SpaceX diaspora of engineers) says whenever they are trying to justify their legacy wasteful rockets. Even Rocketlab's CEO had to "eat his hat" when he finally realized that the cost difference was real, that reusability was here to stay, and they had to develop a direct competitor to SpaceX.

SpaceX provides a per-seat, per-launch cost, not a direct government subsidy - That would be ULA. ULA was literally a direct mechanism for transferring tax revenue to large multi-national defense companies to procure "independent access to space" (sound familiar?).

They do use (and pay for and lease) NASA and Air Force facilities - but in America, airports are government institutions as well, that are explicitly leased out to airlines. Reuse of NASA's unused resources, rather than destroying them (or paying for the upkeep) after the shuttle program, was an explicit political decision.

So why isn't SpaceX cheaper? They have kept prices high (but still lower than everyone else) to help fund Starlink. The fact that they can do so is reflective of Falcon's costs.

Reusability is real. Ariane 6 is nothing more then the ULAification of Arianespace.

sidewndr462 hours ago

Given that ULA historically purchased engines from Russia, are you suggesting that it was a direct mechanism for transferring tax revenue to Russia companies?

+1
jjoonathan2 hours ago
+1
TeMPOraL2 hours ago
inglor_cz58 minutes ago

Interestingly, Ukraine has a lot of space industry and relevant experience. The EU could make use of that, one day. Or the Western world in general.

Of course that means not leaving them over to the bear.

InTheArena1 hour ago

Yes. Deliberately so. They wanted to ensure that rocket and nuclear technology did not proliferate in the 2000s and were willing to directly pay for Russian engineers and knowledge to keep them from going elsewhere.

JumpCrisscross5 hours ago

> SpaceX benefits from massive taxpayer support and uses facilities built by the military and NASA

So does ArianeSpace [1]. (It’s majority owned by the French state. EDIT: It’s not.)

> no clear public indication of how reusable its rockets really are or their refurb cost

Refurb rates and turnaround times for Falcon 9 first stages are publicly documented [2]. Refurb costs are more opaque, but they’d have to be multiples of what SpaceX charges to approach Ariane 6’s cost projections.

Ariane 6 is obsolete on arrival; ArianeSpace’s CEO admitted as much in asking the ESA to fund a reusable heavy booster like Falcon Heavy [3].

[1] https://www.space.com/europe-ariane-6-rocket-debut-launch

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Falcon_9_first-stage_b...

[3] https://www.illdefined.space/arianespace-the-only-fish-in-th...

qwytw3 hours ago

> It’s majority owned by the French state

Is that really true? I thought it was owned 50:50 by Safran and Airbus which are both publicly traded companies.

~25% of Airbus is owned by France, Germany and Spain. France owes ~11% of Safran. So France seems to own only ~10% of ArianeSpace

JumpCrisscross3 hours ago

You’re correct—thank you. I missed CNES transferring its shares to Safran [1].

[1] https://www.arianespace.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Corpo...

littlestymaar4 hours ago

> So does ArianeSpace [1]. (It’s majority owned by the French state.)

True, but the EU has tight rules about government subsidies (TFEU art. 107-109) which don't have equivalent in the US.

> Ariane 6 is obsolete on arrival; ArianeSpace’s CEO admitted as much in asking the ESA to fund a reusable heavy booster like Falcon Heavy [3].

This is true though.

InTheArena2 hours ago

Please note - Airbus has received tens of billions of dollars in launch aid that only in 2018 was ruled illegal and still has not launched a major airframe without this form of government aid.

Aviation and space have been a super-highly subsidized environment since day one, on both sides of the Atlantic.

+1
Cipater4 hours ago
ddalex5 hours ago

If I would be begging for new development money from the parent org after just launching a new product, I would also say that the new product is obsolete and we need to work on a replacement ASAP... especially in a pork-barrel org

JumpCrisscross4 hours ago

> I would also say that the new product is obsolete and we need to work on a replacement ASAP

Sure. See the rest of the article. Everyone else has been saying the same for a decade.

Note that the reusable heavy launcher he’s pitching is still aiming to deliver in a decade what SpaceX can do today. It’s not a strategic option, it’s a jobs programme.

+1
6274673 hours ago
Xixi5 hours ago

Ariane 6 is quite heavily subsidized, with ArianeGroup getting €340M per year to operate it [1]. With an expected 10 launches per year, that's about €34M/launch.

But in the grand scheme of things it doesn't matter: Europe needs to be able to put its own military satellites (or anything else critical) up there. Military satellites sold to third party countries also won't launch themselves...

[1] https://europeanspaceflight.com/arianegroup-to-receive-e340m...

Rinzler894 hours ago

>Ariane 6 is quite heavily subsidized

All major aerospace companies and projects are heavily subsidized in every country otherwise they would never survive or even be born. Like how much profit did NASA make over its lifetime?

ambicapter31 minutes ago

Right? At a certain point, governments are the only entities that can afford to send things to space. "Highly-subsidized" here just means "government is 99% of company's market base".

Cthulhu_3 hours ago

NASA is a government agency though, so it doesn't have profit generation as its target. And that's fine, neither does the US army or any other government branch except for the tax office.

londons_explore4 hours ago

> But in the grand scheme of things it doesn't matter: Europe needs to be able to put its own military satellites (or anything else critical) up there. Military satellites sold to third party countries also won't launch themselves...

I'm very surprised the EU and the USA and SpaceX didn't work out a deal to buy a certain number of F9's to be launched and operated from the EU. The EU would pay a (vey high) price to buy outright the rockets, and would agree not to develop a competing rocket design in the next 20 yrs.

+1
pavlov3 hours ago
leoedin2 hours ago

European space programs are motivated by jobs, retaining domestic skills and actual usefulness in that order. Funding is allocated to companies based primarily on the country they’re in - funding must be split across all funding countries.

ESA is never going to just buy a rocket, because that would completely defeat the point of ESA.

CrLf3 hours ago

I think you fail to understand the concept of sovereignty.

The_Colonel3 hours ago

> The EU would pay a (vey high) price to buy outright the rockets, and would agree not to develop a competing rocket design in the next 20 yrs.

It doesn't seem that surprising given the terms.

Propelloni3 hours ago

Why? That would be a bad deal for ESA. Instead of being behind 10 years with a fighting chance to catch-up, they would be 20 years behind and dependent on one, maybe two unreliable partners (Musk and maybe the USA under Trump).

close043 hours ago

> The EU would pay a (vey high) price to buy outright the rockets, and would agree not to develop a competing rocket design in the next 20 yrs.

So the worst of both worlds? It would still be very expensive, but also dependent on a foreign entity and with hands tied for the next decades unable to develop people, skills, or products in that direction.

Cthulhu_2 hours ago

Would that even be possible? SpaceX would need to either provide intense training (engineering, operating, etc) for their rockets, or to provide the staff and facilities themselves; basically the company would need to double its staff (if not more) to support a scheme like that.

I mean it makes sense, why not sell off rockets and whatnot commercially like the mass production strategy that Musk has in mind? But I don't think there's enough launches yet to warrant that. In fact, SpaceX is booked full for the next few years already; unless that's intentional, they simply don't have the production capacity to humour that idea.

bryanlarsen59 minutes ago

> massive taxpayer support

When the Forest Service buys a truck from Ford do you also call that "taxpayer support"? The government buys stuff from SpaceX, it hasn't directly subsidized SpaceX for years. The government buys from the lowest bidder, which is almost always SpaceX. For example, NASA estimated that it would have to pay $1.5B to deorbit the ISS. After tender, SpaceX bid and won with an $843M bid. Who is subsidizing who here?

> uses facilities built by the military and NASA.

And for which it pays quite dearly for, on the order of $1M per launch. It's quite clear from Rocket Lab's books that operating their own launch facility is far cheaper than using the Space Force's or NASA's.

> creative accounting quoting their PR numbers,

To win their contracts, SpaceX has had to open their books to both the Space Force and NASA. It's one thing to lie to the press in a tweet, it's quite another to lie to the military in audited books. The press may be gullible, but army accountants are not incompetent and the consequences for lying to the military are not minor.

SpaceX's books are not open, but the amount they receive from the government is very public. It's quite obvious that SpaceX is highly profitable. They receive well under $2B from the government each year, they sell a couple dozen other rocket launches to others for ~$70M apiece, have not raised money for over 18 months, have a payroll approaching $1B per year and are quite obviously sinking multiple billions each year into Starship and Starlink. The only way the numbers add up is if Starlink is ridiculously cheap to build and Falcon is ridiculously cheap to launch.

realityking48 minutes ago

> The government buys from the lowest bidder

To my knowledge, in the case of NASA’s launch contracts, only US companies are allowed to bid on these. It’s quite understandable that Europe would like to keep domestic capabilities the same way NASA aims to maintain the US’ domestic capabilities.

Cipater4 hours ago

>SpaceX benefits from massive taxpayer support

Ariane 6 was funded by European taxpayers to the tune of €2.815 billion.

>and uses facilities built by the military and NASA.

Ariane is launched from the Guiana Space Centre which is owned and operated by the ESA. Since you haven't familiarised yourself with the topic, ESA is the European Space Agency and is owned by 22 European governments.

In addition, the member states of the ESA will subsidize the rocket for up to €340 million annually in return for an 11% discount on launches.

jve3 hours ago

> It’s not a like for like comparison especially give SpaceX keeping its books private and giving no clear public indication of how reusable its rockets really are or their refurb cost.

Elon in some interview was stating that Falcon architecture limits reusability to particular amount days so it is not _rapidly_ reusable in comparison to having Starship being catched by tower/reused rapidly. However mentioning merely days - that is surely pretty reusable and makes economical sense.

https://youtu.be/aFqjoCbZ4ik?si=pK-tptp0XbmOeoWN&t=432

> "... a couple days to get booster back. At least a few days to refurbish it for flight ..."

In practice, wiki mentions 21 days as fastest turnaround for a single booster: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Falcon_9_first-stage_b... - So that means bringing booster back with ship, refurbishing, putting on the new payload and launching again.

sandworm1013 hours ago

There is more to SpaceX than just cost comparisons. SpaceX is a US company, meaning anyone wanting on the rocket has to submit to a host of space-related regulations and US national security policies. Some launches don't want to, or cannot, deal with such oversight. A doubling of launch costs seems huge, but operating satellites isn't cheap. Many launches may prefer the premium price if it means launching on a European rocket.

hoseja4 hours ago

Massive taxpayer support for such frivolous projects as the first and only global broadband (battlefield capable) communication system and the only working american human-rated launcher, both for quarter the cost the next guy would like to charge. Truly, shameless leeches.

fallingknife2 hours ago

You don't actually believe that a rocket that is thrown away every launch could possibly be cost competitive with one that can be reused 20 times, do you?

rbanffy2 hours ago

A rocket that's thrown away was cheaper per flight than the shuttles, which were only partly discarded. It all depends on how much does it cost to build vs refurbish. Falcon 9 was designed to be easily refurbished and Ariane 6 was designed to be cheap to build. Also, launch campaign costs are not neglectable - moving the parts around, fueling, testing, and so on, are expensive.

Their next-gen ones should be reusable, and share a lot of design with the Falcon 9 family. Methalox might next, as it's very promising, but the RP1 supply chain is well established.

ekianjo4 hours ago

do you imagine the ESAs some kind of private actor? its paid by the taxpayers whether it makes money or not

panick21_4 hours ago

[flagged]

londons_explore4 hours ago

> Problem is we know how much money SpaceX raised

If they wanted to raise money without it becoming public, they could do so easily - for example using directors loans.

A better way to guess their expenses is to look at how many employees they have. Lets call it 15,000. Lets put average pay at $150k/year after overheads and taxes. 96 launches in 2023. That puts the salary cost per launch at $23M/launch.

It's a very rough figure because obviously some rocket parts are purchased, there are other overheads, and there are other revenues and costs from starlink etc.

FredPret2 hours ago

You really think 100% of salaries can be attributed to launch costs of one of their rocket types?

panick21_2 hours ago

Most people at SpaceX work on development programs and in manufacturing not launch. SpaceX manufactures many different things. Launch by now isn't even close to a majority of revenue anymore. SpaceX is not just a launch company, not even close. They are a full space company doing everything from ground infrastructure, commercial and military sats, human and cargo space flight to LEO and the moon. And they are doing development and operations of all of that.

What matters is marginal cost of every other launch of Falcon 9. Most analysts put the number somewhere between 10 million $ and 25 million $. I think very few people would guess more then 20 million $, specially now as launch rate has gone up. My guess is that 15 million $ is more reasonable.

SpaceX pretty consistently ramped up their money raising along with their development programs. And they were pretty transparent about all of that. Not a single company who analyses SpaceX has ever suggest that SpaceX might somehow have raised much more money. Maybe a few 10s of million. But its hard to raise billions without anybody knowing.

And I'm just rather believing people who spend a lot of resources trying to understand SpaceX rather then somebody in an internet form saying 'maybe they have raised billions without anybody knowing'. Because only if its actually billions would it change anything about my argument.

What is numbers actually suggest is that SpaceX Falcon 9 operation are highly profitable. They are selling launch way above cost. Numbers and information we have suggest that SpaceX bids very aggressively on their development contracts for NASA, and they are like no making a profit on those, maybe a loss. In case of Starship, a big loss. But likely they get that back with continued operation beyond the initial orders (or that has been the reality so far). Numbers suggest that SpaceX is making a killing on DoD contracts, they knew they were the only viable competitor so they bid very high on those. I think just one that stuff, SpaceX would be a highly profitable company.

If this was not true, then there simply is no way they could have sustained the massive investment in Starship and Starlink.

So unless somebody shows me prove or anything close to a credible source, showing that SpaceX raised multiple billion additional $, I'm just not gone believe the SpaceX is losing money on everything narrative.

Frankly given how insanely expensive something like Starship is, its crazy how little money they have actually raised. Its basically a drop in the bucket to compare it to SLS.

kuschku5 hours ago

Ariane is one generation behind SpaceX, but that still puts them on second place. All while being independent from the whims of one single individual, ensuring independent launch capabilities for national security reasons.

nordsieck5 hours ago

> Ariane is one generation behind SpaceX, but that still puts them on second place.

The first doesn't imply the second.

Ariane 6 is behind:

* ULA's Vulcan

* SpaceX's F9/FH

* SpaceX's Starship (who knows when it'll start launching payloads)

* Blue Origin's New Glenn (supposed to be launched in September)

in terms of raw performance as well as $/kg.

There are also a number of other rockets like RocketLab's Neutron and Relativity's Terran R that seem like they'll outcompete Ariane 6.

The medium/heavy lift market is getting much more crowded than it has been in the past.

unethical_ban2 hours ago

Two operational, and a bunch of dreams.

Right now, Europe has a functioning rocket program under their own control.

I think it's understandable for an engineering community to talk about the tech, but people seem to be forgetting the geopolitics.

jccooper17 minutes ago

You must have some wild dreams. Starship and New Glenn are basically as dreamy as Ariane 6. Starship is essentially operational as an expendable launcher already, and NG is starting the paperwork for first launch.

Ariane 6 will serve fine as an "assured access to space" for the local market (which is important), and good on them for finally getting it off the ground. But it's design goal was "Falcon 9 competitor" and it certainly isn't.

nordsieck39 minutes ago

> Two operational, and a bunch of dreams.

Lol.

Starship has successfully launched more than Ariane 6. The only reason they aren't launching payloads right now is because they want to nail down reuse first.

There's less info on New Glenn, but a lot more footage has come out since David Limp took over. And the DoD thinks Blue Origin has a good enough shot at launching this year that they added them to NSSLv3.

> Right now, Europe has a functioning rocket program under their own control.

> I think it's understandable for an engineering community to talk about the tech, but people seem to be forgetting the geopolitics.

Sure.

But that would have also been true if they'd just kept Ariane 5.

A lot of people are dumping on Ariane 6 because ArianeGroup spent a bunch of money and time to make a rocket that's not that much better than the previous one. When they could have made an actually competitive rocket instead.

mort9642 minutes ago

Relying on a company which is headed by a famously unreliable narcissist seems like a bad choice though, I wouldn't really count those SpaceX options as proper alternatives

JumpCrisscross5 hours ago

And that’s before we start counting in China and, soon, possibly, India.

Ariana 6 might be the stupidest civil aerospace project in the world after Boeing’s Starliner.

+4
lm284694 hours ago
+1
nordsieck5 hours ago
pantalaimon3 hours ago

Are you deliberately ignoring China?

panick21_4 hours ago

This is not even close to being true.

Vulcan rocket has already launch and cost the same as Ariane 6 without subsidy. They have a credible reuse program called SMART. Vulcan uses advanced stage engines.

BlueOrigin, for all their diddling and money wasting, is gone launch pretty soon with a rocket that is way more advanced in literally every way.

RocketLab has been executing quickly and their next generation Neutron rocket will be on the market literally a decade before any reusable offering from Arianespace. Their engine development is working on a staged rocket engine far more advanced then ESA next generation engine. Development on that engine is progressing much, much faster and is cheaper.

Relativity's Terran R rocket is deep in development. Lots of component testing and fully built engines being tested. Their Terran R will also hit market many, many years ahead of whatever Ariane Next is gone.

And in fact, while all these people working on next generation system, there isn't even the glimmer of political agreement about development of a next generation European system.

Either you are just lying or you have not actually studied the launch market at all.

> All while being independent from the whims of one single individual, ensuring independent launch capabilities for national security reasons.

Yeah really sucks for the US to have 5 very aggressive competitive companies coming online. Much better to have monopoly that requires 5 billion $ to get the most basic rocket upgrade ever to fly.

cubefox5 hours ago

Arguably at most third place, since partly reusable New Glenn (Blue Origin) is already planned to launch in a few months, currently September. Though lower stage reuse might only happen later.

ricdl4 hours ago

Ariane is apparently so obsolete that they are behind rockets that haven't even launched yet!

+2
cubefox4 hours ago
crest5 hours ago

So because an incumbent exists ESA should give up, let their production and development pipeline rot away and "enjoy" the monopoly until it's too late to change something?

6274673 hours ago

at this stage I question the resolve of any European leader in actually wanting to achieve anything of note in a consequential manner. it's cheaper but not cost-free to sustain a narrative of "independence" and "alternative to incumbent" when the actual result is just wasting tax payers money for vanity projects with no clear path to actually build a sustainable alternative to the incumbent.

ESA has no resources to directly compete with spaceX or china unless Europe changes attitude and realizes that they have the resources and responsibility to do more in this mission for humanity

espadrine2 hours ago

> it's cheaper but not cost-free to sustain a narrative of "independence" and "alternative to incumbent"

The narrative is independent of the price.

SpaceX has showed that they may refuse service in various situations, such as drone access to Starlink Internet in a battle during Ukraine war. Thus a government being dependent on them for their space fleet, gambles the possibility of being suddenly unable to guarantee commercial services such as Galileo GNSS, or during military operations.

ckozlowski2 hours ago

This was a special case. Much of Ukraine's connectivity came via donations from SpaceX, and via their commercial business. They gave free connectivity to Ukraine for a direct military purpose. There's legitimate reasons for why SpaceX would not want to be blurring the lines between the two. Programs such as the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program exist for this reason, providing a legal and contractual framework for such arrangements that route business through the state, with the legal and diplomatic oversight that comes with such.

SpaceX rushed to provide terminals to Ukraine for free when they asked for them, and that was laudable. But SpaceX had no mature defense sales program set up, or it was bypassed. I could argue that this was another instance where Elon's impulsiveness created issues that SpaceX would have to deal with down the line, such as ongoing payments and the lack of a shield for their commercial business.

Properly set up, a defense sale will include such things like a guaranteed minimum buy, service level agreements, and the legal and diplomatic framework to provide a level of shielding to the contracting company from third-party complaints to alleviate the risk of an arbitrary service shutdown.

JumpCrisscross2 hours ago

> SpaceX has showed that they may refuse service in various situations, such as drone access to Starlink Internet in a battle during Ukraine war

If the goal is building a European Starlink, Ariane 6 is a step backward. It fundamentally cannot support the required launch cadence and doesn’t build any of the foundational technologies required to get there. (Analogous to Starliner, which was also pitched as a back-up plan.)

6274672 hours ago

my argument is, none of the observable actions from European leadership are effective towards independence and I would argue those actions are detrimental - ie. wasting money in a decaying, incapable and parasitic organizations

inglor_cz37 minutes ago

In that case, tough luck for us.

We cannot build an European equivalent of Starlink with expendable rockets. It would be just too expensive to build hundreds and hundreds of one-time rockets and immediately destroy them.

fallingknife2 hours ago

They did give up by building a disposable rocket in the 2020s

ur-whale5 hours ago

> So because an incumbent exists ESA should give up

No. But they should learn their lesson and try to run instead of plodding along at a glacial pace.

Oh but wait, they're govt funded with no success incentives other than some sort of vague sense of pride for a job well done.

My money is on they're not going to come out ahead in the race.

Beretta_Vexee5 hours ago

ESA and Ariane Group are two very different things. Ariane Group's main investor is the French state (61%). The French state wants a high-powered solid rocket booster for its ICBMs, and a sovereign and reliable means of launching large intelligence satellites. It couldn't care less about reusability. ESA is the equivalent of NASA and has no commercial activity, but subsidizes part of the Ariane program. Ariane group would rather be like a state own Lockheed Martin Space. Private investors interested in profitability and civil activities are in the minority at Ariane Group

There is no race between ESA, NASA and Roscomos. The Russians and the French are not going to abandon their rockets and entrust their nuclear deterrent and early warning system to SpaceX.

qwytw3 hours ago

> Ariane Group's main investor is the French state (61%)

Isn't Ariane Group jointly owned by Airbus and Safran? Which are both publicly traded companies and France only has a ~10% stake in both?

+2
Reason0775 hours ago
Larrikin5 hours ago

Why is it a race instead of being of public and international importance to have an alternative to a for profit company?

+2
JumpCrisscross5 hours ago
trueismywork5 hours ago

Because extra money spent could be better invested elsewhere. Eventually, the high cost will harm the general expertise and readiness.

sschueller5 hours ago

What race? The race to the price bottom and who can get us to the Kessler syndrom first?

lm284694 hours ago

> My money is on they're not going to come out ahead in the race.

What race ? Having your own launcher is already a win in a fast changing world

speedgoose5 hours ago

I would rather work for the government than working to make someone so rich even more rich. To each their own.

lucianbr5 hours ago

That is fine. Government should still be reasonably efficient. Not as efficient as possible by any means possible, with the ethical problems megacorporations have. But reasonably efficient.

So it's worth keeping an eye on things and making comparisons. I at least, don't say any dollar more than SpaceX spent by Ariane is bad. But if they spend multiple billions more... maybe we could build some trains or something for that money.

threeseed5 hours ago

> they're not going to come out ahead in the race

What race ? And if there is even one who cares ?

If EU pays 10x or 100x more to launch satellites the world isn't going to change all that much.

+1
nordsieck5 hours ago
trueismywork4 hours ago

Lol it is. More money means less money some place else. Europe is not as rich as it was 40 years ago. General competency will decrease due to lack of money.

justin664 hours ago

“It’s not my money.”

nordsieck5 hours ago

> 6-10 years from now Ariane Next/SALTO will aims replicate Falcon 9 efficiency and the design will be very similar: reusable, RP-1/LOX, Prometheus engine is similar reusable open cycle engine as Merlin with lots of 3D printed parts.

1. Ariane Next will use a Methalox first stage and a Hydrolox 2nd stage[1], not Kerolox (RP-1).

2. Given how long it took to get Ariane 6 to the launch pad, and its similarities to Ariane 5, 6-10 year is very optimistic.

---

1. From what I understand, this is due to political wrangling. Germany wanted to make the engines for the 2nd stage. IMO SpaceX's approach of using the same engine everywhere is superior.

cubefox5 hours ago

I think it would be, in the long term, more cost effective for ESA to contract two or three private European rocket start-ups, like RFA, to build such reusable launch vehicles. To create some competition in price and development speed. Arianespace (ArianeGroup) seems to be "old space" by now, similar to ULA or Boeing in the US.

JumpCrisscross5 hours ago

> more cost effective for ESA to contract two or three private European rocket start-ups, like RFA, to build such reusable launch vehicles

That would trigger politically-impossible lay-offs in France.

nordsieck5 hours ago

> That would trigger politically-impossible lay-offs in France.

And yet, that seems like the model ESA is moving to. Not exactly - it's more NASA style letting companies bid on launches instead of directly funding rockets. But close enough.

I don't think ArianeGroup is in trouble in the near term.

But Avio - the makers of Vega - are very unhappy about that direction, since the current crop of Rocket startups more directly competes with them.

cubefox5 hours ago

Yeah, it seems impossible for ESA to act rationally in this regard when bound e.g. by French veto. The only opportunity would be for individual countries (like Germany) to fund such rockets alone, but that seems unlikely due to cost (and the fact that they already pay for ESA). Without substantial investment, companies like RFA don't have the means to create a larger rocket, due to heavy international competition.

Not even NASA could resist developing their SLS rocket, which realistically should have been replaced with funding private heavy lift rockets. And that is despite the fact that they are much less politically constrained than ESA.

+1
snowpid4 hours ago
protomolecule2 hours ago

SpaceX wasn't the first American rocket startup, other ones failed. What makes you think European startups won't fail?

cubefox1 hour ago

I suggested funding multiple ones.

JumpCrisscross5 hours ago

> 6-10 years from now Ariane Next/SALTO will aims replicate Falcon 9 efficiency and the design will be very similar

…at which point it will be competing with Starship.

pmontra5 hours ago

It will still be building that knowledge inside Europe. Rocketry in general is deemed to be strategic so it's OK for any country to invest money in that, keep scientists and engineers on the subject, keep the industries alive, etc. It's not only about access to space, it's also about defense.

JumpCrisscross5 hours ago

> will still be building that knowledge inside Europe

Ariane 6 cannibalises Europe’s chance at being more than an also-ran in space:

“An Arianespace manager pushing his company as the only solution to Europe’s launch challenges isn’t that noteworthy. However, the fact [Arianespace’s CEO] urges the need for a ‘reusable heavy launcher’ is notable, considering his previous noncommittal remarks about rocket reusability. The certainty of his statement leaves no ambiguity–Ariane 6 just won’t be able to compete in the global market. It will take a (single and expensive) reusable heavy launcher (manufactured by Arianespace) and (funded by) a unified Europe to compete (with SpaceX).

While [Arianespace’s CEO’s] admission of reusability’s future in Europe is surprising, his constancy in his attempts to keep European space activities hostage to Arianespace is not. To be clear, he wants European taxpayers to fund reusability development and manufacturing only through Arianespace. He believes Europe can’t afford more than one reusable heavy launcher and that if Europe were to pay for a reusable rocket, then Arianespace must manufacture it.”

https://www.illdefined.space/arianespace-the-only-fish-in-th...

imtringued37 minutes ago

You're under the misconception that it makes sense for Europe to have a launch vehicle at all. The launches happen in French Guiana. The only reason why you would build it on the European mainland is as a jobs program for Europeans.

No commercial entity would come up with the idea of building a launch vehicle in Europe. Making a rocket reusable means that it would not leave French Guiana far behind. There would be less need for rockets from the European mainland.

snowpid5 hours ago

While that attitude makes sense for ArianeSpace , I doubt they will be successful.

sgt1015 hours ago

Yes, and the industrial base that we are discussing is the one that builds the M51.3 which is fundamental for Europe. Existence is worth a lot.

6274673 hours ago

will it? or will engineering talent just move elsewhere after realizing their talents are wasted in bureaucratland?

+1
lapphi3 hours ago
okasaki2 hours ago

What's strategic about it?

We give all of our data to US companies and that's ok (?), but for some reason we need to be able to launch our own rockets?

flohofwoe5 hours ago

Unless Europe wants to build a moon base or new ISS, won't a Starship competitor be a bit overkill for most payloads?

JumpCrisscross5 hours ago

> won't a Starship competitor be a bit overkill for most payloads?

No, for the same reason trucks aren’t overkill for horses in logistics. Unit costs, lead time, orbital flexibility: there isn’t a market for Ariane 6 left.

Even ArianeSpace’s CEO admits Ariane 6 is obsolete and that Europe needs “a reusable heavy launcher” [1].

[1] https://www.illdefined.space/arianespace-the-only-fish-in-th...

+1
flohofwoe5 hours ago
haspok5 hours ago

You don't know that. Starship does not exist.

chgs5 hours ago

a thing which can get into orbit and deploy objects exists

simiones4 hours ago

A thing which can nearly get into orbit. It never quite reached it (probably intentionally). But more importantly, the recent Starship tests ran with no payload whatsoever, and they definitely didn't deploy anything into orbit.

imtringued36 minutes ago

I don't know what you mean by deploy objects, but even according to Musk himself, the current Starship version will not carry any payloads any time soon.

Y_Y5 hours ago

You're quite right, but for apples-to-apples you should compare to NASA rather than SpaceX. "Move fast and break things" is an attitide that only relatively new rocket builders can have.

JumpCrisscross5 hours ago

> for apples-to-apples you should compare to NASA rather than SpaceX

ESA is analogous to NASA. ArianeSpace is Europe’s ULA. Europe doesn’t have a SpaceX; Ariane 6 is a Yugo in the modern launch market.

Reason0775 hours ago

> “The launch cost is almost 2x the cost of Falcon 9.”

This actually seems quite reasonable considering the Ariane 6 is a non-reusable, low-volume design.

JumpCrisscross5 hours ago

> seems quite reasonable considering the Ariane 6 is a non-reusable, low-volume design

It’s after subsidies [1]. Actual costs are 4 to 6x Falcon 9, and that’s comparing actual costs today for Falcon 9 to projected costs in the future for Ariane 6.

[1] https://www.space.com/europe-ariane-6-rocket-debut-launch

jinzo4 hours ago

You do know that this article completely forgets to mention if SpaceX got any subsidies? From a quick google search, it seems that this is not the case and I have a feeling that Falcon 9 sticker price is in fact subsidied by the USA. So - why compare apples to apples, when you can compare apples to oranges.

InTheArena1 hour ago

It is not. The sticker price is not subsidized by the state. The state does buy a lot of launches as a consumer. These are often conflated.

JumpCrisscross3 hours ago

> this is not the case and I have a feeling that Falcon 9 sticker price is in fact subsidied by the USA

They’re both state supported. But Falcon 9 is cash-flow positive on commercial launches where the only operational subsidies are launch complex access.

zitterbewegung2 hours ago

Not sure why everyone here is talking about cost when independent control is much more to be desired. If a country / countries aren’t as friendly or dislike what you want to do they might not let you do what you want.

contrarian12345 hours ago

Are the Europeans wworried that "between now and 2030s" the US will cut off their access to space?

I understand things can go wrong and it's good to have a backup plan in the long term... But that's not that many years out. You can go without access for a few years .. It seems like a tiny risk

boricj4 hours ago

The French mantra is strategic autonomy. We are allies with the USA, we are not vassals of the USA and we do not want to depend on anybody else to defend our own interests or our own agenda. This is why the French army has independent expeditionary and nuclear deterrent capabilities and why nearly all of our military kit is designed and produced either locally or in partnership with nearby European countries.

It's not that we don't trust the Americans per se (although opinions may differ on that topic), but we don't want to have to.

ArianeGroup also manufactures the M51 missile that goes inside our SSBNs and unlike the Brits we do not accept depending on Americans supplying us with the missiles for our nuclear deterrent.

contrarian12342 hours ago

It seems just a ton of money and R&D down the drain developing something already obsolete for some tiny and very theoretical advantage. It seems more sensible to lose a tiny bit of independence for a small window of time and instead use the money to develop an actual state of the art rocket.

boricj40 minutes ago

De Gaulle would be rolling in his grave hearing this. The point is not about economic efficiency. The point is that we're not one embargo on foreign components or systems away from crippling our capabilities and surrendering our ability to act independently.

The Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier almost got immobilized back in the early 2000s due to withholding of spare parts from the USA because they were pissed we called bullshit on their Iraq WMD claims. The USA routinely uses ITAR as a pressuring tactic to stop European weapon sales to foreign countries, which is why we're actively scrubbing every last ITAR component from all of our weapon systems.

Just because we're allies doesn't mean that the other party has or will have our best interests at heart. The Americans have proven to be quite temperamental and under-handed when our strategic objectives aren't aligned with theirs.

fallingknife2 hours ago

Wish more NATO members had that attitude.

protomolecule2 hours ago

>we are not vassals of the USA

Aren't you? In 2003 Russia, Germany and France were strongly against illegal American invasion of Iraq. The US invaded anyway, ruining the country. What have France and Germany done about that?

actionfromafar37 minutes ago

They did not participate?

boricj58 minutes ago

France among many nations called bullshit on the WMD claims, we threatened to veto the UN Security Council resolution authorizing a military intervention and we refused to get involved in that mess.

The fact that the US government decided to unilaterally invade Iraq anyway is not our responsibility to bear. What could France have done more, try and enact economic sanctions or wage war against the USA over this?

jltsiren5 hours ago

The US has been an unreliable partner since Bush Jr. became the president. Every 4 years, there is a real risk that things will go wrong.

Beretta_Vexee4 hours ago

It's more complicated than that. Even before W Bush, the United States didn't hesitate to twist the arm of its partners in economic matters.

France and the USA may be allies, but economic relations have been complicated for over 40 years. The USA has no hesitation in interfering with or sabotaging the French economy (aukus subs, alstom, airbus defense, galileo), claiming that its law is extraterritorial in order to condemn company directors, and all the drity tricks imaginable.

This is what led many European companies and gouv in the 90's and 00's to prefer partnerships with Chinese and Russsian companies.

Even the British, with their special relationship, have completely isolated their nuclear industry from all US companies for fear of being screwed and at the same time signed partnership with CGN in China.

Beretta_Vexee4 hours ago

> Are the Europeans wworried that "between now and 2030s" the US will cut off their access to space?

Ariane Group is first and foremost a defense company owned by the French state, Germany and several other European countries.

Ariane group designs and manufactures French ICBMs. This is a significant part of its business.

The French government wants a sovereign means of putting heavy military satellites into orbit (twice the weight of the Hubble telescope).

The French state will never let its intelligence, early warning and nuclear deterrent depend on the United States.

PedroBatista5 hours ago

Looking at the geopolitical situation both next door and across the pond the answer is a yes.

Also keeping the expertise and the people is a critical factor.

badcppdev3 hours ago

Sometimes nation states might disagree on what should be done in certain circumstances. An example of this is 39 years ago on this day the French government blew up a civilian boat in New Zealand [0]. Crazy but true. Having independent capabilities is part of being a sovereign rather than vassal state.

0 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinking_of_the_Rainbow_Warrior

yourusername2 hours ago

>Are the Europeans wworried that "between now and 2030s" the US will cut off their access to space?

Both US presidential candidates are not mentally well. Who knows what they might do.

nabla95 hours ago

Not really, but European countries launch military payloads and other strategic stuff like Galileo satellites and communication satellites.

All are friends with NATO, but that does not exclude spying and all kinds of shenanigans. US spies non-Five Eye countries mercilessly. They get caught sometimes. Like the systematic wiretapping trough Danish cables from 2012-2014.

dividedbyzero4 hours ago

In the event of another Trump presidency (or a successor in spirit) getting cut off for military purposes is probably more like expected, and in a post-NATO world Russia might get a lot more aggressive towards western Europe. That's probably what is behind most such time horizons right now, but even in the mid to long term, rocket tech will remain highly strategic (e.g. for nuclear weapon delivery), and capabilities like that need to be built up well before any conflict escalates.

protomolecule2 hours ago

>in a post-NATO world Russia might get a lot more aggressive towards western Europe

Why not the opposite? NATO is a threat to Russia, Western Europe alone -- not as much.

jcranmer24 minutes ago

If your dream is to restore Russia to its imperial greatness, there's an awful lot of EU countries that need to be gobbled up along the way, so France is quite likely to be willing to help a Russian-Estonia war even without NATO.

NATO is only a threat to Russia insofar as it poses an obstacle to Russia gobbling up its neighbors.

Cthulhu_3 hours ago

It may be 2x the cost of Falcon 9, but it's a different use case and volume (~10 per year for Ariane, ~100 for Falcon 9); Ariane 6 would not be cheaper at those volumes if it was reusable.

Also keep in mind that most of Falcon's use is for SpaceX itself, 2/3rds of launches are for Starlink.

Kuinox5 hours ago

By then, startship would have lowered cost even further.

threeseed5 hours ago

Starship has a payload 10x-15x larger than the smaller Ariane 6 variant.

It seems like for the cost to be lower you would be wanting to fit as much as possible thus impacting how often it is being launched. So not sure if the two have the same requirements.

dhedberg5 hours ago

I suspect that you don't really need to fill all the seats of a reusable 737 before it's cheaper to fly than a single-use Cessna.

JumpCrisscross5 hours ago

> seems like for the cost to be lower you would be wanting to fit as much as possible thus impacting how often it is being launched

Starlink alone will fill Starship’s most-ambitious deployment schedules for years. That gives plenty of piggyback capacity to swamp the market with.

justin665 hours ago

> The launch cost is almost 2x the cost of Falcon 9.

I bet it will be a lot more than that.

Sakos37 minutes ago

> The launch cost is almost 2x the cost of Falcon 9.

I can't be the only one who thinks this is still a huge win. What did launch costs look like 10-30 years ago?

sligor5 hours ago

Is the cost difference mostly due by design or also due to much higher production volume and launches for Falcon 9 ?

topspin4 hours ago

Both.

admissionsguy3 hours ago

> 6-10 years from now Ariane Next/SALTO will aims replicate Falcon 9 efficiency and the design

That's what presentation by some high-ranking ESA person said when I was considering joining a Master's program in Spacecraft Design in Kiruna, Sweden, where some ESA launch facilities are located. I found that goal extremely uninspiring, especially combined with European salaries, so I opted to keep getting paid well working on software to feed people more burgers.

christkv5 hours ago

The main genius of SpaceX is the mass production. Hopefully they can replicate that in the future.

TheLoafOfBread3 hours ago

Well question is why would EU want mass production of rockets and for what purpose?

ur-whale5 hours ago

> 6-10 years from now Ariane Next/SALTO will aims replicate Falcon 9 efficiency and the design will be very similar:

And by then, SpaceX will be 10 years ahead of them with a next-gen platform.

Not a great sounding story.

TheLoafOfBread3 hours ago

> And by then, SpaceX will be 10 years ahead of them with a next-gen platform.

Or going bust if Starship will turn out to be a flop.

jajko5 hours ago

For any European? Thats fantastic. Let that ego maniac and putin's admirer chase latest and shiniest, we all will learn from his success and failures.

We (US vs Europe) are not racing nor competing in this in any way, we just need to put out payload up there too. We desperately need our own skillset though, with Trump or similar breed potentially at power across the pond US will become more hostile towards Europe and let russia roll over Ukraine and maybe further, absolutely no doubt there.

panick21_5 hours ago

> Ariane 6 exists so that European countries can get independent access to space between now and 2030s.

No it doesn't. That directly contradicts the actual rational for Ariane 6 as outlined in 2014.

There were two options, Ariane 6 or Ariane 5 ME. With France principally favoring Ariane 6 and Germany Ariane 5 ME. With Ariane 6 costing many billions, and Ariane 5 ME costing a few 100 million $.

The Ariane 5 ME would have done the 'independent access to space between now and 2030s' just fine.

The explicit reason why they wanted Ariane 6 was to remain competitive against the Falcon 9. They were starting to lose launches on mass to Falcon 9 already by 2014 and were panicking.

Its simply PR spin to now pretend this never happened. But rather admit that they spend 5 billion $ to lose the commercial market anyway and were basically now subsidizing uncommunicative launches for US cooperations instead.

Ariane 6 achieved the exact opposite of what its rational was in 2014. Instead of helping Europe pay for its space industry, it has to be subsidized.

> 6-10 years from now Ariane Next/SALTO will aims replicate Falcon 9 efficiency and the design will be very similar: reusable, RP-1/LOX, Prometheus engine is similar reusable open cycle engine as Merlin with lots of 3D printed parts.

Sure in fantasy land this is true. The reality is, after the gigantic expanse of Ariane 6, that cost way more then expected. With Europe having huge debt and Ukraine was, plus very expensive new space systems, there is very little actual drive towards a new large rocket system.

Such a rocket system would again cost many, many billions and this will be politically impossible, not just because of the money.

Beyond the rational mentioned above, the reason Ariane 6 was picked, was that France was willing to give solid booster contracts to Italy. So France literally 'paid off' Italy to get them on board Ariane 6.

The reality is, Italy simply will not wnat to move away from solids. And Germany is, very, very, very unlikely to be onboard for another gigantic rocket investment, after they already didn't want the Ariane 6 in the first place. Without Germany and Italy there simply isn't gone be a 'next big European rocket'.

Between your optimistic 6 years prediction, I would say 2040 is a much more likely date then 2030. We have already seen delay with the test platforms. And we are already seen a collapse of the 'all ArianeGroup' all the time mantra that Europe had. The idea that ESA would hand ArianeGroup another 5 billion $ in the current environment just isn't gone happen.

And this is simply because of exactly what people already pointed out in 2014. Wait until the technology is ready, and then develop a next generation rocket, rather then rush out a sub-optimal design 'quickly'.

Now they have shot their powder and are stuck on a slightly improved Ariane 5 rocket with no reasonable path for upgrade. Exactly as many critics have pointed out in 2014.

> reusable, RP-1/LOX, Prometheus engine is similar reusable open cycle engine as Merlin with lots of 3D printed parts.

Prometheus has been in development since 2015 already, and they are not even at full duration testing yet. Bragging about a new GG engine today isn't that impressive, not for a space power that has been making engines for decades.

RocketLab, has just recently switched from Gas Generator to Staged. And with much less money their Archimedes seems to be developing much faster then Prometheus while being much more advanced.

Europe is just being out executed in so many way. RocketLab will basically develop a complete new rocket and advanced engine for a cost comparable to what Europe spends on engine development and re-usability test programs.

RocketLab will put this stuff into commercial deployment a decade before ArianeGroup despite having started years later.

Sorry, I'm not that impressed by 'maybe in 2035 we will clone SpaceX architecture from 2020' just with a much less optimized engine.

mrtksn5 hours ago

Unfortunately the mission didn't perform smoothly as intended at the end, there was an issue with the auxiliary power unit and it wasn't able to de-orbit once deployed the cubesats:

https://x.com/AndrewParsonson/status/1810794808828641546

jari_mustonen5 hours ago

Even though this is not impressive compared to SpaceX, it is still essential that we have multiple actors building rockets. The competition makes sure that SpaceX needs to push the boundaries. Our future as a multi-planetary species is not dependent on a single actor.

I'm hoping for some space race. It would be great if the United States would transfer a part of MIC funding to space exploration.

JumpCrisscross5 hours ago

> it is still essential that we have multiple actors building rockets. The competition

Twice the cost and at a small fraction of the frequency is competition in the way a rubber duck competes with a battle ship.

Ariana 6 isn’t meaningful competition. ArianeSpace’s sole value is in its potential of becoming competition if one day sensibly managed.

TheLoafOfBread3 hours ago

Arianne 6 is not about competition, but about strategic independence at the first place.

JumpCrisscross2 hours ago

> Arianne 6 is not about competition, but about strategic independence at the first place

That’s what the Starliner folks said. The fault in their argument was ignoring scale effects.

Ariane 6 buys Europe zero practical launch independence, other than maintaining the workforce (and accompanying skill set). If SpaceX blocks Europe, it’s game over for any constellation operator and, in all likelihood, the European commercial space sector.

Ariane 6 hopes to do 10 launches per year by 2030. That’s a few weeks’ Falcon 9s today. Each Ariane 6 launch requires subsidies to be competitive, and that’s assuming Arianespace’s forecasts hold. (They haven’t.) Every one of those euros could be used, instead, on R&D.

Ariane 6 uses cryogenic fuel. It has no landing system, mass-manufacturing site or refurbishment elements. That means that none of the foundational technologies for reusable launch are being worked on. (Ariane 5E would have been a strategic hedge. But Paris wouldn’t have it.)

TheLoafOfBread36 minutes ago

It is completely irrelevant how much Falcon 9 cost if political leadership of USA is unreliable and unstable. Flacon 9 could be flying for free, but if you could lose access to it any time, it is like it does not exist.

Cthulhu_2 hours ago

And also, SpaceX is booked full for years; there is plenty of space for competition even if it costs more.

mytailorisrich3 hours ago

You can't have that strategic independence in the long term is your capability falls more and more behind others in terms of technology and costs. This also has a ripple effect on your industry at large: Would European companies use this European independent launch capability if it was costly and obsolete? No. Would the European military be able to compete against adversaries? No.

An extreme illustration: would you say that Spain had strategic independent seafaring capability if it had maintained fleet a galleons to this day?

TheLoafOfBread39 minutes ago

> Would European companies use this European independent launch capability if it was costly and obsolete?

If USA will go hermit mode like at the end of 19th century, then they will have no other choice. And we certainly have signs of US wanting to go into isolation.

isodev5 hours ago

It needs to start somewhere, right? We can't "just build" a NX-class starship without sciencing it out and R&D.

JumpCrisscross3 hours ago

> needs to start somewhere, right?

Not here. If you’re bootstrapping a modern navy you don’t start by building galleons. Ariane 6 is the prettiest space galleon there ever was. That doesn’t translate into meaningful R&D for a reusable booster. (For example, cryogenic fuels aren’t great for reuse. So dump the engine. Their production cycles are artisan versus assembly line. Et cetera.)

This isn’t a story of European incompetence. It’s one of excellent engineers being wasted by an extractive monopoly. We had the same problem in America in ULA; we never figured out how to reform them. We got lucky in a reboot.

mytailorisrich4 hours ago

SpaceX came to be because of all of the knowledge, skills, industry, and people produced by NASA and the US taxpayers.

So it is crucial for Europe to maintain and develop its knowledge and industrial base, but indeed they should also adapt to compete because that's the only way to survive in the long term.

swarnie3 hours ago

I'm not sure its meant to be "competetive", the intention is to have independent route to space for Europe.

Depending on Russia or the USA is an intolerable risk.

moffkalast5 hours ago

Yeah this is ESA's see-we-have-domestic-launch-capability pointless SLS tier project basically, my tax dollars at work.

I'm really puzzled at the lack of investment into any kind of reusable launch vehicle that could even come close to competing with SpaceX. Launching on this expensive relic of the past makes zero sense unless your payload is a military spysat.

jltsiren4 hours ago

I don't find it surprising. The orbital launch industry is small, but it requires large risky long-term investments. Until a few years ago, SpaceX revenues were relatively flat at ~$2 billion/year. There has been significant growth since then, but more from Starlink than from external customers.

If you're interested in money, there are better investment opportunities around. And if your angle is national security, the ~€500 million/year needed for a program such as Ariane 6 is little more than a rounding error.

amelius5 hours ago

I don't think it is that impressive anymore. We've been building rockets for decades. Making them return to Earth is peanuts compared to building a self driving car. You can even make a simulation that is 99% accurate without much effort. Also, rocket science is just Newtonian physics.

Of course, building a rocket requires a shit-ton of resources, so if anything is impressive then it's the management of those resources.

flohofwoe5 hours ago

> Also, rocket science is just Newtonian physics.

Spoken like a true software engineer ;)

amelius1 hour ago

Software engineers have a lack of self-esteem when comparing to other STEM disciplines. The reason we see more fuck-ups in software than in other fields is not because software engineers are stupid, but because software is inherently difficult.

ur-whale5 hours ago

> Also, rocket science is just Newtonian physics.

Disagree.

The newtonian physics part of flying a rocket is indeed the boring part of rocket science in these days of Ghz computing.

But all the engineering (an altogether different - if related - discipline) required is anything but simple.

And engineering and all of its sub-disciplines (materials science, propellant research, iterative refinement, operational research, logistics, 3d printing, computing, simulation, structural engineering, etc...) is both where the complexity lives and where the greatest progress in rocket science has been made.

The devil is in details, as usual.

VagabundoP5 hours ago

Yup, as an engineer the "nuts and bolts" of all this stuff is the really hard part.

The stresses, forces, environment etc that these machines face mean that it is always impressive the don't blow up.

And its silly talk to say that the ESA shouldn't have its own rocket programmes.

amelius4 hours ago

I view the things you mention as incremental improvements on stuff that basically worked since the 60s.

itishappy2 hours ago

If we want to get real pedantic, the Chinese invented rocket powered flight around 1000AD.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huo_Che

numpad02 hours ago

Previous livestream submission, just 16 hours earlier than this: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=40918284

Top comment from above submission:

  mrtksn 18 hours ago
  IIUC this is one of those projects that the governments fund when the free market solution doesn't exist.
  Sure, Falcon 9 or Soyuz exists but those are foreign entities that might become unavailable due to politics, therefore a local solution must be developed even if its not the most cost effective. It also must help train and retain local talent and distribute funds to participating parties.
  So, it may be a bit expensive but in the end you get a rocket, a workforce who knows how to design and build rockets and they happen to spend the money they receive locally.
  IMHO they should invest in video production and art too, no one ever comes close to Space X in that department.
  edit: Wow, so much negativity for a successful launch.
delta_p_delta_x24 minutes ago

The bearishness, pessimism, and criticism in this thread—especially by just a handful of prolific commenters—is off-the-charts.

We have people comparing strategic assets and state-owned enterprises to private commercial enterprises. Well done.

witx4 hours ago

I guess something is better than nothing. But it's a shame to be launching something that seems obsolete from the start

Cthulhu_2 hours ago

It's not obsolete if it works and there's people paying for it. Most space rockets are decades old tech, calling it obsolete seems pointless.

witx1 hour ago

Obsolete as in it can be competitive or not ...

cooper_ganglia29 minutes ago

This is Europe's slogan.

karaokeyoga5 hours ago

| Nevertheless, it had several passengers on board.

"passengers" → "payloads", I assume.

r7215 hours ago

Related discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=40918284 (57 comments)

nanna2 hours ago

> Beyond the great emotion I am feeling right now, my first thoughts are for all the teams in Kourou, Paris, Vernon, Les Mureaux, Toulouse, Bremen, Lampoldshausen, Liège, Barcelona, Colleferro, Zürich and everywhere else in Europe who made this success possible.

Would the UK have been a part of this pre-Brexit?

alibarber2 hours ago

The UK is still part of ESA.

They do not have a direct involvement in the Ariane project however.

mglz2 hours ago

The UK is part of ESA, which should be independant from EU membership. I am not sure where Ariane 6 parts are built though.

snowpid4 hours ago

In Germany there are 3 companies, I heard in France 2 companies, I don't any in other parts of Europe but there are definitely but I suppose the European rocket start up pipeline is filled.

P. S. HN please tell me about your (European) nation's future rocket builder.

snowpid2 hours ago

Also here is a non rocket space device from Germany https://www.polaris-raumflugzeuge.de/ (I cant judge their seriousness, but they got funding by military)

T-A3 hours ago

I still don't know how seriously to take it, but this one really stands out from the crowd:

https://www.sidereus.space/

https://europeanspaceflight.com/sidereus-space-dynamics-comp...

snowpid2 hours ago
gkedzierski4 hours ago

This is great! Now we're waiting for Themis to become a reality.

cabirum4 hours ago

No mention of an engine failure and the last payload could not be delivered. It is now floating helplessly in orbit, effectively turned into space debris, endangering other projects.

mauriciolange3 hours ago

There were no last payload to be delivered. The remaining payload was intended to deorbit along with the second stage.

cabirum3 hours ago

"but the mission ended with the launcher coasting in orbit without releasing its final batch of payloads.", Reuters[1].

[1]: https://www.reuters.com/technology/space/europes-ariane-6-ro...

adolph2 hours ago

The plan was for the last payloads to separate from second stage and deorbit along with it. That was the delivery.

  35:13
  end of this the upper stage will flip in space and restart the Vinci engine to 
  break and set itself on a collision
  35:19
  course with Earth burning up in our atmosphere and limiting space debris but   
  before it touches atmosphere two
  35:26
  capsules are set to detach and had on their own mission to survive the extreme     
  temperatures of the re-entry and all
  35:32
  three elements will then splash down in the Pacific Ocean far away from 
  civilization this will end our mission
  [0]

  [...]

  4:42:58
  according to this new situation which means that the Vinci engine decided not
  4:43:04
  to restart because there was no ipu uh operating so he was not in a good 
  condition to restart and so there was a
  4:43:12
  passivation of the upper stage which was triggered in order to make it an object
  4:43:18
  which does not create um dangers of debris and the passivation works
  4:43:25
  perfectly according to plan uh and also it was the the launcher system decided
  4:43:32
  automatically not to to release the two capsules the two passengers because it
  4:43:39
  would have created additional debr and so uh we have an event which is not
  4:43:44
  understood yet which is why did the Apu stop but all the rest of the mission was
  [1]
0. https://youtu.be/B0oFpOJaIYc?t=2113

1. https://youtu.be/B0oFpOJaIYc?t=16978

the_mitsuhiko5 hours ago

I’m happy it exists but it’s incredibly disappointing how non competitive it is. There was a lot of hubris in the project in the beginning and now it’s clear that they are years behind. Which in turn makes future funding a challenge I’m sure.

I really hope they don’t give up and manage become more ambitious.

szundi5 hours ago

Funding hard to lose when the end result is needed and is a strategic objective. Not funding it would make the EU depend on others and knowledge would be lost.

Interesting to think about a way how these perfectly connected people could be exchanged to some new, pragmatic generation.

6274673 hours ago

knowledge is preserved by having more people have it and build upon it. subsidizing decaying incumbents is not an effective way to preserve knowledge

trueismywork4 hours ago

Yeah, but govt could find multiple companies instead of a monopoly. Encourage domestic competition.

cdydsaigon4 hours ago

thank you

sociorealist4 hours ago

[dead]

kranke1554 hours ago

[flagged]

trueuropean5 hours ago

[flagged]

scosman4 hours ago

[flagged]

m2fkxy2 hours ago

not sure why you are getting downvoted, that was a funny reference to Ariane 501/V88.

lnxg33k15 hours ago

Still feel a bit weird to read the name Ariane associated with the concept of European excellence

Mashimo4 hours ago

How so? What are you referring to?

aryonoco5 hours ago

The word you're referring to is usually spelt Aryan, and it both looks and sounds different to Ariane.

And fuck the Nazis. Aryan was a very common Indo European word, and still is across places such as India and Iran. The Nazis destroyed a lot of good things, we don't have to let them destroy this word too.

pixelesque4 hours ago

I think they're referring to the Ariane 5 disaster in 1996 caused by a software bug...

sufficer4 hours ago

Maybe he's defensive because of his username is similar to Aryan too

adolph2 hours ago

Ariane is a series of European civilian expendable launch vehicles for space launch use. The name comes from the French spelling of the mythological character Ariadne. France first proposed the Ariane project and it was officially agreed upon at the end of 1973 after discussions between France, Germany and the UK. [0]

In Greek mythology, Ariadne (/ˌæriˈædni/; Greek: Ἀριάδνη; Latin: Ariadne) was a Cretan princess, the daughter of King Minos of Crete. . . .Linguist Robert S. P. Beekes has also supported Ariadne having a pre-Greek origin; specifically being Minoan from Crete because her name includes the sequence dn (δν), rare in Indo-European languages and an indication that it is a Minoan loanword. [1]

0. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ariane_(rocket_family)

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ariadne

ThinkBeat58 minutes ago

Too bad they are not equipped to rescue the 2 astro nauts Boeing has been left stranded on the ISS for over a month.

There they are munching up unbudgeted food and oxygen.

Which will not be a problem, since ISS should have a reserve supply for 3 months, but it should impact the the next supply run.

Will Boeing bring them back?

I would think NASA has reached out to SpaceX, and possibly the Russians (? in today political climate?) and asked what their rescue capabilities might be. SpaceX seems likely to be able to prepare rescue rocket fairly quickly?