Copyright 2023 Robert Clark
ArianeSpace Needs to Transition to Reusability to Survive.
European space advocates have been lamenting that there seems to be no near term route to keeping up with SpaceX, getting reusable launchers, and towards achieving manned space flight. However, in point of fact ESA already has the components to form a launcher comparable to the Falcon 9 and at lower price, while keeping pace with SpaceX in reusability, and in manned spaceflight.
All it would require is someone, anyone in the Europeans space community to ask the impertinent question, "How much would it cost to add a 2nd Vulcain to the Ariane 5/6?"
For once that question is asked, and ArianeSpace forced to answer honestly, they would have to admit it could be done for only a development cost in the range of only ~$200 million. But then it would become obvious how to proceed.
First, note that the Ariane 6 that was planned to compete with the SpaceX Falcon 9 has been pushed back to 2024, when its original launch date was in 2020, extending the time where SpaceX is cornering the market. Note also the Ariane 6 will not be reusable. In fact ArianeSpace has admitted they won't be fielding a reusable launcher until the 2030's.
ULA was driven to the brink of bankruptcy by denying the importance of reusability. There is little doubt the same will happen to ArianeSpace if they wait a decade to field a reusable vehicle. Independent European space observers have also made this point about the choice of the non-reusable Ariane 6:Europe’s lack of rocket ‘audacity’ leaves it scrambling in the space race
European policymakers want to stop SpaceX from dominating the launch market.
BY JOSHUA POSANER
JANUARY 15, 2021 12:28 PM CET 6 MINUTES READ
That 2014 decision haunts French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire, who keeps a warning of that moment on his desk.
“The European space adventure is magnificent, but in 2014 there was a fork in the road, and we didn’t take the right path,” Le Maire told a conference last September. “We should have made the choice of the reusable launcher. We should have had this audacity.”