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posted by martyb on Wednesday May 23 2018, @09:57AM   Printer-friendly
from the Spaaaaaaaaaace! dept.

Ariane chief seems frustrated with SpaceX for driving down launch costs:

[...] chief executive of Ariane Group, Alain Charmeau, gave an interview to the German publication Der Spiegel. The interview was published in German, but a credible translation can be found here. During the interview, Charmeau expressed frustration with SpaceX and attributed its success to subsidized launches for the US government. [...] Even as Charmeau decries what he calls subsidies for SpaceX from the US government, he admits that Ariane cannot exist without guaranteed contracts purchased by European governments. To make the Ariane 6 vehicle viable, Charmeau said Ariane needs five launches in total for 2021 and eight guaranteed launches for 2022.

[...] Charmeau said the Ariane rocket does not launch often enough to justify the investment into reusability. (It would need about 30 launches a year to justify these costs, he said). And then Charmeau said something telling about why reusability doesn't make sense to a government-backed rocket company—jobs. "Let us say we had ten guaranteed launches per year in Europe and we had a rocket which we can use ten times—we would build exactly one rocket per year," he said. "That makes no sense. I cannot tell my teams: 'Goodbye, see you next year!'" This seems a moment of real irony. Whereas earlier in the interview Charmeau accuses the US government of subsidizing SpaceX, a few minutes later he says the Ariane Group can't make a reusable rocket because it would be too efficient.

China's first private rocket reaches 127,000 feet on maiden flight:

OneSpace Technology Co., a Beijing-based aerospace company, has successfully launched a suborbital rocket. This was the first flight for China's commercial launch sector.

[...] The mission was designated OS-X0 as it was the first test launch of OneSpace's OS-X rocket. During the flight, the launch vehicle reached an altitude of 127,106 feet (38.74 kilometers) and had a top speed of more than 5.7 times the speed of sound. This was confirmed by Shu Chang, the company's founder and CEO.

[...] OneSpace is not the only Chinese private company developing launch vehicles. Last year, Link Space, another Beijing-based startup, presented the design of its New Line 1 reusable rocket. That company is targeting 2020 for the first orbital flight of its booster.

Although the Space Launch System's promoters are focusing on the vehicle's payload capacity to trans-Lunar injection orbit, NASA now claims that the SLS Block 1's payload to LEO may be greater than the 70 metric tons originally estimated. This comes as the SLS project has been negatively compared to SpaceX's Falcon Heavy:

While a comparison between NASA's SLS Block 1 and SpaceX's Falcon Heavy is often made, the gulf between the two has actually widened. As the Block 1 design has matured, the agency has refined the vehicle's capabilities by a significant amount. Though NASA prefers to position SLS as a deep-space rocket, [Spaceflight Insider] sought a clarification of the vehicle's capabilities to a more common destination for rockets: low-Earth-orbit (LEO).

NASA replied: "Now that the SLS design has matured and the program has more data as a result of progress with hardware manufacturing and testing, our current analysis shows the Block 1 configuration of SLS can deliver an estimated mass of 95 metric tons (209,439 pounds) to low-Earth orbit based on a 200 by 200-kilometer orbit with a 28.5 degree inclination, which is a commonly used orbit in the industry for estimating performance."

See also:

Here's China's plan to compete with SpaceX and Blue Origin:

How China plans to challenge SpaceX with reusable rockets: State contractor says its first reusable rocket could come in two years

Union votes to end ULA strike


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  • (Score: 2, Disagree) by RamiK on Wednesday May 23 2018, @12:44PM

    by RamiK (1813) on Wednesday May 23 2018, @12:44PM (#683086)

    You think this is a software company and having 2-3 times the labor force automatically means 2-3x the production costs? This is a rocket. Having 30 guys retrofitting a "reuseable" rocket or 100 guys building a new rocket can sway either way depending on parts and labor costs. Especially considering all the material wear those rockets go through.

    Rockets and boosters are basically long tubes with fans and fuel tanks. Even if you can somehow make them last a half dozen launches, it's REALLY cheap just building new ones and scrapping the old ones for the metal. Just ask the Russians...

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