Monday, June 17, 2013

On the lasting importance of the SpaceX accomplishment, Page 5: a letter to the European space industry.

Copyright 2013 Robert Clark

Subject : A low cost, all European, manned launcher.
Date :     Sun, Jun 16, 2013 07:37 AM EDT
From :     "Robert Clark" <****@****>
To :     ****@****

 This article discusses the possibility of using the ATV as a manned spacecraft:

Shifting Constellations: Europe Eyes China in Space Race.
By Kevin Holden Platt in Beijing February 08, 2013 – 03:17 PM

 Russia and China have their own manned spaceflight program, as will the U.S. once again soon. Even India and Japan are planning their own manned spaceflight programs. The European Union has been the greatest economic power in the world or a close second to the U.S. over the last few years. European space advocates then should regard it as unacceptable that Europe has no plans to develop a manned spaceflight capability.

 The main impediment has been cost. But such costs would be reduced greatly if the focus was on small rather than large. The ATV is a large, expensive spacecraft as is the Ariane 5. But there is no need to have a spacecraft as large as the ATV simply to carry a crew, or a rocket as large as the Ariane 5 to launch them to orbit. My recommendation is instead to adapt, for example, the much smaller Cygnus, designed and built in Italy, for the purpose.

 This would allow a much smaller vehicle of Ariane 6 size to be used as the launcher. The complaint that the Cygnus does not have life support or a heat shield is not valid since that would have to be provided to the ATV as well. Another possibility for the capsule would be the 'Magic Dragon' capsule developed by Elson Space:

PICTURE: UK built SpaceX capsule revealed.
By: ROB COPPINGER LONDON 11:25 15 Apr 2008

 For this to be the case, you would have to adopt the liquid-fueled version for the Ariane 6, eventhough the solid-fueled version has been decided upon. The Academy of Air & Space in France has criticized the choice of the solid-fueled version on the grounds that it does not advance the technology and has limited flexibility:

Academy Urges Europe To Halt Work on ‘Wrong Choice’ Ariane 6 Design.
By Peter B. de Selding | May. 30, 2013‘wrong-choice’-ariane-6-design#.Ubqa4cu9KSO

 But another key advantage was not mentioned by the Academy, that the liquid-fueled version could serve as a manned launcher. To me this is an overwhelmingly important fact that needs to be mentioned in regards to their relative merits. This would be a profoundly important advance in European technology. Look at how the Chinese space program was regarded as having been advanced by developing its manned spaceflight program.

 Because of this advance, to some the Chinese space program is regarded as having surpassed both the European and American ones. I am aware of the fact that the choice of the solid-fueled Ariane 6 was largely political, shaped by the requirements of geographical return which the ESA has to follow. However, I am a strong proponent of the commercial space approach to launcher/spacecraft development. To me it is an extremely important fact that the costs to the government were reduced by 90%(!) by both SpaceX and Orbital Sciences in developing their respective launchers.

 For a commercial enterprise in the business world, if you found a way to reduce your costs by 90% that would be a development that would be hailed for decades as an extremely important advance. But because space programs are government run this is something that still is only spoken of in hushed tones by NASA.

 Still nevertheless NASA's commercial space program was a tremendous success in producing launchers at greatly reduced costs to the government. Note that NASA was forced to this because of the high cost of producing manned launchers under normal governmental financing procedures. This success then should be modeled by European space agencies in producing manned launchers even if it requires bypassing the ESA, with its geographical return requirements.

 Here I discuss how the liquid-fueled Ariane 6 could serve as a manned spaceflight vehicle:

On the lasting importance of the SpaceX accomplishment, Page 4: how the Ariane 6 can beat both SpaceX and the Russians.

   Bob Clark


  1. Hi Bob it's GW Johnson.

    Are you going to the Mars Society convention in Colorado this August?

    I'm presenting a paper at that meeting on the oddball heat shield material I did so long ago (about 3.5 decades ago). It seems to have good application for Mars landers.


    1. I hope I can attend; it's a matter of finances. I am very interested in your heat shield material after reading about it on the NewMars forum:

      Index» Human missions» Yet another Mars architecture.

      Bob Clark