Archives pour la catégorie Launchers

Europe needs its « new space »

We have been hearing a lot recently about Space X, Blue Origin, XCOR companies. These names are at the forefront of this « new space » pole that has been created in California and is revolutionizing the space sector in the US. In stark contrast with the past, these new space champions are developing rockets and associated technologies with a mix of public and private money coming from dotcom billionaires (like Elon Musk for Space X or Jeff Bezos for Blue Origin) and venture capitalists more and more prone to invest in space (Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Founders Fund). In addition, these companies are highly innovative:

  • Space X is investigating and testing full first stage reusability for its Falcon 9 rocket (see infographic)

SpaceX first reusable

Space X first reusable stage

  • Blue Origin is developing a Lox/CH4 engine to replace RD-180 in Atlas V (240T thrust).

BE4

BE-4 model

  • XCOR is working in suborbital reusable spacecraft.

XCOR Lynx

Suborbital reusable spacecraft

Finally, they are bringing a start-up dynamic and « can do » attitude in a sector governed by blue chip companies with significantly more inertia. Overall, these companies are at the origin of the space push in the US and a factor explaining the widening gap between US and Europe. In order for this gap to be reabsorbed, ESA and most important European agencies (CNES, DLR) to invest in and develop a « new space » equivalent in Europe via

  • Seed funding in start-ups focusing on technology bricks (privatge venture capital sector in Europe is not mature at present)
  • Development of  demonstrator logic as CNES has been doing in the past via its « Programme d’Investissements d’Avenir » program.

Now, how to do this? Here some ideas

  • Allocate xxM€ (25 for (~10-20?) to create a specific space frontier fund to support space technology company creation
  • Allocate 50-100M€/year in demonstrators focusing in flight validation of key technology bricks (e.g. first stage reusability, innovative materials, new avionics suite)

 

Airbus and Safran Launcher JV : a revolution?

On June 16, Airbus and SAFRAN announced the creation of JV to produce new family of launchers (see wide array of articles in the net, for example this one from Aviation Week).

Overall, the  effects of the Airbus and SAFRAN JV  could be dramatic for European space sector

-Arianespace integration in JV structure

-Consolidation of launcher design teams in ESA, CNES and the JV

-Consolidation of production facilities around « JV site »

So what next? First, Airbus and SAFRAN need to integrate their launcher activities. Secondly, Arianespace future needs to be decided. In the same timeframe, there needs to be  a discussion on CNES/ESA and Industry launcher design teams roles and responsibilities. Finally,  wider asset consolidation (production facilities) should not start after ESA European Council decisions in December, i.e in 2015.

Airbus and Safran Ariane 6 configuration

In addition, to June 16th Launcher JV announcement, Airbus and SAFRAN are proposing  an alternative design to current A6 baseline (see  post on May 5th). This new design introduces 2 Ariane 6 versions

Ariane 6.1 with a performance of ~4.5T in GTO and a projected cost of ~70 M€

-First stage : Cryogenic propulsion

-Boosters : 2 composite solid propulsion strap-ons (P145)

-Upper stage : « Aestus » type stage (storable propellant stage propulsion like Ariane 5 first versions)

Ariane 6.2 with a performance of ~8.5 T in GTO and a projected cost of ~85 M€

-First stage and boosters : same as Ariane 6.1

-Upper stage : Cryogenic upper stage based on « Vinci » engine

Hereunder a rendering of these 2 configurations

Ariane 6 Airbus_Safran

This configuration is very different from CNES / ESA agreed Ariane 6 baseline (again, see post of May 5th ). In a nutshell, it is more flexible and maintains large cryogenic propulsion industry but it is around 20% more expensive.

So what next? Well, the defining moment for Ariane 6 configuration choice (and planning by the way) will be next ESA Council Meeting in December. Till then,  lots of discussions between CNES, ESA and Industry…

 

La configuration Ariane 6 continue de faire débat – Article Les Echos

Une autre article, cette fois dans ‘Les Echos’, sur le débat modularité vs non-modularité pour la configuration Ariane 6.
Dans ce blog, nous avons défendu les bénéfices de la modularité dans un environnement où les prix d’emport dépendent de la masse du satellite lancée. En effet, je ne suis pas sur que les opérateurs satellite soient prêts à payer le même prix pour embarquer un satellite de 3T ou de 6T alors que ce n’est pas le cas sur Ariane 5.

Ariane 6 configuration flexibility is an asset

Ariane 6 ‘frozen’ configuration was presented by CNES in July 2013 (see figure 1).

Ariane_6

Figure 1

As was already know, the presented concept was part of the ‘PPH’ family.The interesting factor of the final configuration is that it does not allow for any flexibility i.e it does not allow for a family of Ariane 6 configurations as broadcasted before (see figure 2).

A6 P7C

Figure 2

This final configuration is now under significant pressure due to uncertainty in commercial telecom satellites masses due to electric propulsion progress (notwithstanding the debate A5 ME vs A6!)

In this context, it is interesting to analyze benefits of having family versus having one fixed configuration.

In this article, we study 2 Ariane 6 scenarios & 2 satellite mass evolution scenarios

 Ariane 6 scenarios

  • Ariane 6 baseline: one configuration

4 P145 – H32 – Perf in GTO ~ 6.5 T

  • Ariane 6 ‘fagot': two configurations

4 P145 – H32 – Perf in GTO ~ 6.5 T

3 P145 – H32 – Perf in GTO ~ 3.5 T (tbc)

  • Ariane 6 ‘strap-on': two configurations

4 P145 – H32 – Perf in GTO ~ 6.5 T

2 P80 – 2 P145 – H32 – Perf in GTO ~ 3.5 T (tbc)

Satellite mass evolution scenarios based on FAA COMSTAC forecasts-

Note: revenues for each satellite class are included as well based on 20% margin vs 70M€ announced cost)

  • Baseline foreceast – No increased electric propulsion development

Mass class (T)

< 2.5T

2.5T – 4.2T

4.2T – 5.4T

>5.4T

%

13%

27%

20%

40%

Revenues

35.0

58.8

75.6

91.0

  • Alternative with enhanced electric propulsion development – With increased electric propulsion development

Note: revenues for each satellite class are included as well based on 20% margin vs 70M€ announced reccost

Mass class (T)

< 2.5T

2.5T – 4.2T

4.2T – 5.4T

>5.4T

%

25%

27%

20%

28%

Revenues

35.0

58.8

75.6

 91.0  

In summary

  • First of all, the analysis shows that it is not worth it to develop Ariane 6 ‘strap-on’ configuration as 2 P80 recurring cost difference vs 2 P145 is almost fully offset by 2 P80 amortization cost (assumption ‘strap-on’ configuration development cost é 300M€) & P145 reduced experience effect (Aerospace 85% experience factor).
  • Secondly, taking into account experience curve effects (Aerospace 85% experience factor) & additional development costs from Ariane 6 ‘fagot’ 2 configurations (300 M€ from additional qualification launch + specific developments), this alternative scenario should be economically more interesting than Ariane 6 baseline – see details hereunder, unless technical feasibility of Ariane 6 is not fully proven…

No flexibility ( one A6 configuration)

With flexibility ( 2 A6 configurations)

No electric prop. development Electric prop. development No electric prop. development Electric prop. development
4P145-H32 launches/ year

8

8

6

5

Recurring cost / launch

71

71

71

71

Direct costs incl. depreciation / launch

125

125

124

125

3P145-H32   launches per year

0

0

2

3

Recurring cost / launch

0

0

62

63

Direct costs incl. depreciation / launch

0

0

117

118

Total

Recurring costs -no Kourou costs

569

569

551

544

Direct costs incl. depreciation &   fixed costs sharing (Kourou)

996

996

979

978

Revenues

576

522

576

522

Profits vs recurring cots

7

-47

25

-22

Profits   vs direct costs incl depreciation

-421

-475

-403

-456

Note: A6 recurring cost has been adjusted to match 70M€ target at maturity (10 years of operations)

 

 

 

Ariane 6 modularity requested by satellite operators

Spacenews publishes an article detailing concerns of European satellite operators on future Ariane’s  pricing policy for small satellites.

In fact, Ariane 6 as designed today is not flexible and has a ~6T GTO performance. As electric propulsion seems to be developing fast, operators are afraid to have to pay for 6T launcher for a satellite weighing 3T…

It’s true that Ariane 6 design could be reviewed to include flexibility using solid boosters. However, is this flexibility worth it? Reduced scale effects, price difference between strap-on boosters and core boosters not so big,…

More generally speaking, what is reference mission for Ariane 6: commercial telecom satellite in GTO or science/ governmental in LEO, SSO,…?

 

Ariane 6 – Article

Good article on genesis of Ariane 6 configuration and its challenges. In the beginning, Ariane 6 was supposed to be modular. At this stage, it seems to have only one configuration at 6.5T GTO. That’s a pitty…Specially now that developments in electric propulsion could change satellite masses dramatically (up to – 50% – of course with increase in time to orbit…)

http://armchairengineer.blogspot.fr/2014/02/ariane-6-where-does-it-come-from-and.html