Tag: Ariane 5

ESA Weighs Ariane 6 Options as Major Satellite Operator Seeks Industry Overhaul, Price Cuts

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Artist's conception of Ariane 6. (Credit: ESA)

Artist’s conception of Ariane 6. (Credit: ESA)

Space News reports that ESA is weighing two options for its next-generation Ariane 6 launch vehicle as Arianespace cuts prices in response to competition from SpaceX. Meanwhile, satellite fleet operator SES is putting pressure on Europe’s launch vehicle industry to quickly reform itself.

A European Space Agency bid-evaluation team is expected to deliver its judgment by July 5 on two different designs for a next-generation Ariane 6 rocket — one it has been examining for about a year, and another it only discovered June 18.

The ESA Tender Evaluation Board’s recommendation will weigh heavily in a debate among a half-dozen European governments most concerned with launch vehicle production. Ministers from France, Germany and Italy are scheduled to meet July 8 in Geneva, at the invitation of the Swiss government, to solidify their own views of which way to go on Ariane 6.

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French Aerospace Enjoyed Good 2013, But Key Decisions Loom in Space

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GIFAS_logoPARIS (GIFAS PR) — Marwan Lahoud, Chairman of GIFAS [French Aerospace Industries Association], presented the French aerospace, defence and security industry results for 2013.

“The sector enjoyed another good year in 2013. Sales rose to €47.9 bn (by 9% on a comparable basis) with exports inputting €30.4 bn (an 11.4% increase) equating to 79% of consolidated sales. The civil sector accounted for 75% of all sales. Our industry is a centre of excellence for France on both technological and economic levels. It is propelled by a sector that is coherent, cohesive, responsive and ambitious and whose performance is frequently quoted as being exemplary”, Marwan Lahoud was pleased to announce to the press.

In 2013 orders rose to a new record height of €73.1 bn – a 49% improvement on 2012 – which was mainly ascribable to the civil sector that drew 84% of the orders.

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Nine Launches Set for May

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Proton rocket

Proton rocket

Nine launches are scheduled worldwide for the month of May. The manifest includes three launches by American providers, three by Russia, one joint Russian-Ukrainian flight, and one launch each by Japan and Europe.

The U.S. launches include six Orbcomm OG2 communications satellites by SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, and a pair of military satellites to be launched by ULA’s Atlas V and Delta V rockets.

The Russian launches include a new crew to the International Space Station, two communications satellites (1 with Ukraine), and a reconnaissance satellite. Arianespace will launch a pair of communications satellites with Ariane 5, while the Japanese H-2A will launch the ALOS 2 Earth observing spacecraft.

There have been 24 orbital launches through April, all successful. That number will rise to 33 if all scheduled launches are completed in May.

MAY 2014 — SCHEDULED LAUNCHES
Date Launch Vehicle Payload(s) Launch Site Nation
05/06/14 Soyuz Kobalt reconnaissance satellite Plesetsk Russia
05/10/14 Falcon 9 Orbcomm OG2 commsats (6) CCAFS USA
05/15/14 Proton Express AM4R commsat Baikonur Russia
05/15/14 Delta 4 GPS 2F-6 navigation satellite CCAFS USA
05/22/14 Atlas V NROL-33 reconnaissance satellite CCAFS USA
05/23/14 H-2A ALOS 2 Earth observing satellite Tanegashima Japan
05/26/14 Zenit 3SL Eutelsat 3B commsat Odyssey Platform,
Pacific Ocean
Russia/Ukraine
05/28/14 Soyuz ISS 39S crew Baikonur Russia
05/28/14 Ariane 5 Measat 3b & Optus 10 commsats Kourou Europe

Arianespace Wants to Compete in American Market

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Ariane 5

Ariane 5

Arianespace wants the U.S. market opened so that it can offer its launch vehicles to American customers.

Arianespace has called for an opening of the U.S. government market to international launch services competition, with the company ready to bid for such opportunities.

Speaking at the Satellite 2014 conference in Washington, D.C. today, Chairman & CEO Stéphane Israël said European governments have held competitions for civil and military satellites in which non-European launch services companies have openly competed and won contracts.

“Unfortunately, it is not completely open here in the United States – and Arianespace is fully ready to compete in the institutional markets everywhere – including the U.S.,” he said.  “We are quite sure we would be in a position to offer the best solutions for customers and the taxpayers.  And if it comes to a question of employment, we are ready to see how we can ‘Americanize’ our launcher.”

Israël noted that Arianespace continues to target a potential record number of missions in 2014 – with up to 12 missions involving its family of heavy-lift, medium and light-lift launchers.  He underscored that each of these vehicles – the Ariane 5, Soyuz and Vega – are planned to handle both institutional and commercial launches during the year.

It’s not entirely clear how the Ariane 5 could be “Americanized” sufficiently to count as a domestic launch vehicle.

Busy Month of Launches Begins on Saturday

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Zarya, the first component of the International Space Station, launches flawlessly at 1:40 a.m. EST on November 20, 1998, from Kazahkstan (Credit: NASA)

Zarya, the first component of the International Space Station, launches flawlessly at 1:40 a.m. EST on November 20, 1998, from Kazahkstan (Credit: NASA)

A busy launch month begins this weekend with the flight of a Russian Proton rocket from Kazakhstan on Saturday and an early-morning lift-off of a SpaceX Falcon 9 on Sunday carrying a Dragon freighter bound for the International Space Station.

International launch providers are planning 11 launches through April 15.  The U.S. plans four launches while the Russians are planning three, the Europeans two, and India one. One of the European launches will involve a Russian Soyuz rocket that will fly from the European launch base in South America. The final flight during this period will be of a Sea Launch Zenit 3SL rocket, which is a joint Russian-Ukraine program.

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ESA Alters Procurement Practices for Ariane 6 Program

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Artist's impression of Ariane 6. (Credit: ESA)

Artist’s impression of Ariane 6. (Credit: ESA)

ESA has tossed aside one of its key spending practices — juste retour — in an attempt to produce a new Ariane 6 launch vehicle that can compete with cheaper ones offered by SpaceX and Chinese and Indian providers.

Juste retour (“fair return”) is the space agency’s way of spreading work around to companies in different nations in proportion to what national governments  put into a program. The approach produced the highly reliable but expensive Ariane V, whose components and systems are produced throughout Europe.

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CNES Figures Out What SpaceX Got Right, But Can Europe Respond?

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Jean-Yves Le Gall

Jean-Yves Le Gall

Below is a rough translation of a key portion via Google Translate:

If we compare the launcher SpaceX to its competitors, it differs in three major points. First, its perfect adaptation to launch useful governmental charges: these are the satellites from NASA and the Department of Defense who are an important part of its backlog and more of its income to the extent the government U.S. agrees to pay its own more expensive than what is charged to commercial customers launches.

Then its smaller size and ease of implementation, which lead to very low operating costs and de facto make it terribly competitive to launch commercial satellites: the last two launches of the Falcon 9 has achieved a return United States in this market, they were absent for several years, given the lack of competitiveness and availability of conventional launchers.

Finally, the technical definition and its industrial organization, from the beginning, have been designed with the aim of to minimize development costs and operating: instead of being a launcher at the forefront of technology, the Falcon 9 uses engines proven, easy to technology development and especially inexpensive to industrialize, and the launcher is made ​​by a very limited number of subcontractors, which limits the production costs.

Le Gall says that Europe need to adapt to this changing world as it develops the Ariane 6 launch vehicle to replace the Ariane 5.

ESA Faces Large Cost for Ariane 5 Upgrade, New Ariane 6 Rocket

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Artist's impression of Ariane 6. (Credit: ESA)

Artist’s impression of Ariane 6. (Credit: ESA)

The preliminary cost estimates are in the planned upgrade of the Ariane 5 launch vehicle and its Ariane 6 successor, and the one general conclusion can already be drawn:

Europe is in deep trouble.

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Arianespace to Report Small Loss for 2013, Looks Forward to Busy 2014

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An Ariane 5 rocket soars into orbit on Dec. 29, 2010. Credits: ESA / CNES / Arianespace / Photo Optique vidéo du CSG

An Ariane 5 rocket soars into orbit on Dec. 29, 2010. Credits: ESA / CNES / Arianespace / Photo Optique vidéo du CSG

Despite a government subsidy of 100 million euros, Arianespace expects to lose money in 2013 when all the accounts are totalled up. However, the European launch company is looking toward a record breaking year in 2014 as it works through a large manifest, Space News reports.

Arianespace launch consortium expects to report a ‘slight loss’ for 2013 following a revenue drop of some 27 percent compared to 2012 as a result of lower-than-planned launch activity, Arianespace Chief Executive Stephane Israel said Jan. 7.

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EADS Reorganizes, Acknowledges Success of SpaceX

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Falcon 9 lifts off with the SES-8 satellite. (Credit: SpaceX)

Falcon 9 lifts off with the SES-8 satellite. (Credit: SpaceX)

Europe’s largest defense and aerospace company, EADS, has recently restructured and re-branded its operations and announced a series of planned layoffs designed to make the company leaner and more competitive. In the process, officials have acknowledged the competitive pressures placed on it by SpaceX.

EADS re-organized itself as the Airbus Group, with three divisions that include Airbus, Airbus Defence & Space, and Airbus Helicopters. The Airbus Defence & Space group includes the space company formerly known as Astrium.

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