Saturday, January 24, 2015

Ariane 4 for European manned spaceflight.

Copyright 2015 Robert Clark

The Hermes spaceplane because of its size was intended to be carried by the Ariane 5. However, that plan was cancelled because of cost. But if you use a smaller capsule then it could be carried by the Ariane 4.

Two versions would work for a fully liquid fueled launcher, the Ariane 42L and Ariane 44L, the first with two liquid-fueled side boosters and the second one with four. Versions of the Ariane 4 using solid side boosters were also made however for this manned spaceflight application I'm only considering all-liquid fueled launchers.

According to Astronautix, the Ariane 42L could carry 7,900 kg to LEO and the Ariane 44L, 10,200 kg.

Ariane 42L V56 
Ariane 42L V56 - COSPAR 1993-031

Ariane 44L 
Credit: Arianespace

 A crewed version of the Cygnus capsule probably could be produced to mass in the range of 2,000 kg dry mass:

Budget Moon flights: lightweight crew capsule.

     Bob Clark

UPDATE, February 10, 2015:

 In regards to the question of the suitability of the Ariane 4 for manned missions, i.e., whether it could be man-rated, note that it was considered for the purpose in the 1980's:

Multi-Role Recovery Capsule - BAe,1987.
Credit: NASA via Marcus Lindroos
    British manned spacecraft. Study 1987. Britain was the only European Space Agency member opposed to ESA's ambitious man-in-space plan, and the British conservative government refused to approve the November 1987 plan.
    However, the British aerospace industry did propose some interesting alternatives, such as the $2-billion 'Multi-Role Recovery Capsule'.
    British Aerospace Ltd. (BAe) regarded the French Hermes mini-Shuttle as too expensive and complicated. Instead, they felt a simple crew capsule would make more sense as an 8-man 'lifeboat' for Space Station Freedom (NASA issued a competitive request for proposals in late 1987). MRC was to be launched on the existing Ariane-40 rocket and the capsule could be flown manned or unmanned, for sensitive microgravity experiments in orbit.

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