Astrium on the ESA Budget: Kah-ching!

Astrium PR — Astrium, Europe’s leading space company, is delighted by the decisions taken by the Ministerial Council of the European Space Agency (ESA) on 20 and 21 November 2012. The level of the budget voted for the period 2013-2017 (10 billion Euros) and the programmes funded mark a very real consolidation of the future of European space.

On the occasion of the announcement of these decisions, François Auque, CEO of Astrium, declared: “This is a great moment for the construction of the European space sector and Astrium welcomes the decisions, especially during the difficult economic conditions.

We are particularly pleased that the Ministers of the ESA member States have secured investment for the definition study of the new Ariane 6 launcher and for continued development of the Ariane 5ME. These future versions will benefit from the know-how and commitment of the women and men of Astrium, who have made Ariane 5 the most reliable launcher currently on the market.

We also note the major steps forward taken for the MetOp-SG meteorological satellite programme and the Orion service module, NASA’s new space transport system.

At Astrium, we are particularly proud to work to continue to build the Europe in Space, day after day”.

About Astrium

Astrium is the number one company in Europe for space technologies and the third in the world. In 2011, Astrium had a turnover close to €5 billion and 18,000 employees worldwide, mainly in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and the Netherlands.

Astrium is the sole European company that covers the whole range of civil and defence space systems and services.

Its three business units are: Astrium Space Transportation for launchers and orbital infrastructure; Astrium Satellites for spacecraft and ground segment; Astrium Services for comprehensive fixed and mobile end-to-end solutions covering secure and commercial satcoms and networks, high security and broadcast satellite communications equipment and systems, and bespoke geo-information services, worldwide.

Astrium is a wholly owned subsidiary of EADS, a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2011, the Group – comprising Airbus, Astrium, Cassidian and Eurocopter – generated revenues of € 49.1 billion and employed a workforce of over 133,000.

  • I’m sure Atrium is happy because of the amount of money they will make on the plan. But this does not mean it is the best for the european space program.
    What this decision does is guarantee that Soon Musk will be right:

    SpaceX CEO Elon Musk: Europe’s rocket ‘has no chance’.
    By Jonathan Amos
    Science correspondent, BBC News
    19 November 2012 Last updated at 10:47

    But the ESA could have a cost competitive rocket by developing the Ariane 6 with multiple Vulcain engines. This would only be a few hundred million dollar development rather than the multi-billion dollar development needed to develop a single large engine on the core stage.
    I’ve been informed by several different people within ESA or Arianespace that studies on the multi-engine approach have been done but they have not been released to the public. The ESA claims using multiple engines on a stage is not cost effective. If they really believe that why are these studies not released publicly?
    The real situation is analogous to that of NASA with regard to the studies showing just using propellant depots and currently existing launchers could accomplish the goals of the SLS while saving billions. In that case the studies were suppressed because NASA, or the politicians holding the purse strings, was committed to a solution that would provide the most money to the entrenched US space providers. Its the same type of scenario here.
    The real shame of it is that the multi-engine approach would also provide Europe with an independent manned spaceflight capability. But the European public will never know of it because those studies showing it is doable will be kept secret.

    Bob Clark

  • pk

    Ariane 5 has trouble being cost competitive because it can’t be “right sized” for a wide range of payload masses (and one size doesn’t fit all in this case).

    Ariane 6 would address the problem by modularizing the launcher and making it more like EELV, Falcon, Angara, etc.

    Ariane 5 ME would address the problem by downsizing the current Ariane 5.

    A different approach would be to alter the economics that make Ariane 5 non-competitive in the first place. If the unused payload capability of each flight was taken up by water destined for a depot in LEO, the launcher could be “maxed-out” every time it flies. Of course, this presumes that someone would eventually want to use this water, say a European manned lunar program.

    By the way, with the vastly increasing capabilities of small-sats, nano-sats, secondary payloads, etc., it could be that manned spaceflight will be the only thing that saves the big launchers in the long run.

  • Robert Clark

    My primary complaint about the plans for the ESA next
    generation launcher and/or Ariane 6 was that the liquid fueled
    version was to use a *single* new expensive staged-combustion engine at
    about twice the thrust of the Vulcain.
    I was therefore pleased to see that there is now being considered a
    version that will use two engines on the core:

    CNES, ASI Favor Solid-Rocket Design For Ariane 6.
    By Amy Svitak.
    Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology.
    October 15, 2012.
    Amy Svitak Naples, Italy, and Paris.
    “Bonnal says CNES is preparing wind-tunnel tests to adjust the margin
    policy, and pressure oscillation has been assessed for different
    flight phases.
    “Similar to the P1B, the all-liquid H2C would use up to six strap-on
    boosters to carry as much as 8,400 kg to GTO. Twin main engines,
    capable of 150 tons of vacuum thrust derived from the Ariane 5’s
    Snecma-built Vulcain 2, would comprise the H165 first stage, which
    would be topped by a 31-ton cryogenic upper stage, he says. ”

    However, it seems to be the nature of governmental space agencies to
    always want to go grandiose, like NASA. Instead of incurring the cost
    of increasing the thrust of the Vulcain 2, why not use the same ones,
    use a smaller upper stage (31 tons really??) and go with the smaller
    Ariane 5 “G” version of the core stage?
    As I discussed before, judging by the Japanese example with
    the H-II rocket of adding on a second cryogenic engine, this
    modification of the Ariane 5 core to use two Vulcains can be
    done in the $200 million range. Then there really is no need to
    continue talking about billion dollar development costs for the
    Ariane 6.
    Indeed with the recent ESA decision to develop the Ariane 5 ME,
    this modification to the Ariane 5 core to use two Vulcains is so
    comparitively low cost it could be done at the same time as the
    Ariane 5 ME development. That is, you could have both the
    Ariane 5 ME and the Ariane 6 in the same time frame.
    Another point, again as I discussed before, the most important
    result of following this approach is that it would result in a
    a manned capable launcher in a short time frame. Even if not SSTO,
    just using an earlier, smaller, ca. 10 mT upper stage, you could have a
    manned launcher without the solid side boosters. This key advantage I
    still haven’t seen discussed but obviously it would be a great benefit in
    producing support among the European public and the politicians who
    hold the ESA purse strings.

    Bob Clark