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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, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 23 2018, @01:24PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 23 2018, @01:24PM (#683096)

    And what new algorithms had to be developed? The control theory and dynamics were understood in the early 1900's.

    Control of a rocket is the classical inverted pendulum problem ( Many propulsive rocket landings had been done in the 60's and landing something like the LEM is in many ways more difficult than landing a tall rocket because of its small phase margin (imagine pushing a bicycle backwards from its seat). They're not that computationally difficult (as in requiring billions of calculations/sec)

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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Wednesday May 23 2018, @01:55PM

    by MichaelDavidCrawford (2339) Subscriber Badge <> on Wednesday May 23 2018, @01:55PM (#683103) Homepage Journal

    I expect better algos and faster computers ultimately reduce consumption of fuel. Consider the jitter: would reducing jitter result in a lower LEO price?

    Just blowing smoke here, I'm just a physicist and consulting software engineer [].

    Yes I Have No Bananas. []
  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by frojack on Wednesday May 23 2018, @08:39PM

    by frojack (1554) on Wednesday May 23 2018, @08:39PM (#683268) Journal

    landing something like the LEM is in many ways more difficult than landing a tall rocket

    Not so sure of that.

    LEM is quite wide, higher percentage of outboard mass and inertia help stabilize the platform, the pendulum was much much shorter, and the LEM was quite hover stable. Watch video of Apollo 15 LEM landing, [] - not a hint of attitudinal instability - (and still riveting all these years later).

    A small tilt induced a lateral motion, but the central descent engine [] could gimble very fast, and the LEM had upper body thrusters that could have also be used (although they weren't used that way until Apollo 13 life boat mode).

    Remember Armstrong manually landed the LEM, on the first moon landing. There weren't all that many calculations going on per second, although the pucker factor must have been high.

    No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.