This article’s author seems to think there is a possibility Arianespace won’t exist as a company because of SpaceX. But I doubt that assertion. Maybe in a purely non-political playing field, sure. But not in this reality.
I don’t think France is going to let that happen. And I believe that nation would be right to not let it happen. France’s space launch capability is something its citizens seem to be very proud of, with good reasons. France has a great history with launch vehicles. The current Ariane 5 is very, very reliable. It’s been used for many launches since mid-1996 (the first launch was a failure). That’s nearly 23 years.
Unfortunately, the rocket was designed to carry large and expensive communications satellites to geosynchronous orbit. It is expensive to launch. It is NOT reusable (not that that characteristic is required). While not as old as the Soyuz, it is still quite old. The Ariane 5’s supposed heir, the Ariane 6, appears to still be expensive. Also, it’s not reusable.
While the reusability may not be an issue, the high cost to launch is. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 just whomps the projected pricing of the Ariane 6. Hard.
All of the above, though, does not mean Arianespace as a launch vehicle manufacturer won’t survive. Aside from not being able to compete very well with SpaceX today, the other indicators don’t point to a possible demise of Arianespace as a company. Unlike Russian space industry counterparts, the French space industry is very healthy. France contributes significant cash to its own space programs AND to the European Space Agency. It’s space programs are quite active across the board, from satellites to space situational awareness.
But what Arianespace might have to do is change. This is a better alternative than to become non-relevant.
Companies such as Arianespace can change out people, who, in turn, can help those companies change direction. With SpaceX, Microsoft, Blue Origin, and others, we’ve seen what can happen when driven, passionate, smart, risk-accepting, and business savvy individuals take the helm, then find people with those same qualities to help them. Things seem to happen (admittedly, not all of them good). Arianespace needs that kind of leader. Right now, it doesn’t appear to have that.
Plus, France won’t let Arianespace go away. It just won’t.
Russian potato farmers are probably doing a jig. But I have some bad news for them–this rocket doesn’t exist yet. Based on Russia’s lagging idea-to-reality ratio, it may never exist. But those farmers can always rely on the alcoholics. They are the true heroes of the potato economy. 😉
Russia Rising, part 6: Private space race has power to change ‘the whole landscape,’ says Chris Hadfield
The headline is a bit deceptive because, going through the article, there doesn’t appear to be any indication of Russia’s space industry rising. Russian space industry doesn’t even appear to be in a race. Companies like SpaceX have come in and not just taken Russian space industry’s lunch, but then picked it up by the ankles, turned it upside down, and shook it to see what fell out of the pockets, only to walk away and ignore it all.
While Russia’s leadership talks a lot about its commitment to that nation’s space industry, the way money is spent by that government indicates a different priority–weapons. That’s not to say the U.S. doesn’t spend a lot of money on the military in this nation–it does–(although I also don’t know how much longer we can keep digging that debt hole deeper) but NASA, on the whole, keeps getting mostly consistent funding levels annually (hopefully 2019’s budget will be out, soon).
NASA gets enough money to contract work to SpaceX and Boeing for spacecraft to the International Space Station. Considering the past few days this week, including hopefully this morning, the contract with SpaceX appears to be paying off. At the same time, all we’ve heard from Russia are ideas about bigger rockets, alternative fuels, etc. But there’s a saying about ideas…
Successfully launched last weekend, and then successfully docked with the International Space Station, Crew Dragon might actually have touched down in the ocean by the time you read this sentence. Not including the touchdown, this demonstration mission of SpaceX’s brand new crew capsule seems to have been extremely successful. It may be a very positive indicator for the astronauts who will be the first to fly in it later this year.
This may be the second time SpaceX has launched something very new and seem to not have issues with the system’s operation. The first would be the Falcon Heavy launch. It seems that SpaceX is learning an awful lot about safely moving people through space, and then successfully turning lessons and ideas to reality. There are indicators the Russians aren’t too happy about any of SpaceX’s apparent success so far.
Hopefully the re-entry is successful, too.
In case people were watching SpaceX so hard that, you know, they forgot.
The thing I love about these kind of numbers is they are unprovable–but they sound great because….science and math (this is why people place great value on STEM degrees)? Plus, that guy with the beard wearing that corduroy jacket with elbow patches will use this bit of non-knowledge at parties.
Note in the second-to-last paragraph that there have been other Milky Way weight estimates. Apparently those guys were wrong! Now Trivial Pursuit has to change the answers to all those cards…
The Spanish Inquisition?
After all–nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!! (Silly questions deserve silly answers.)