16 thoughts on “Europe And Its Space Race”

    1. How did that press release about the first flight of Ariane 5 go? “The test did not meet all its objectives”?

  1. This gives us an idea of how badly off US spaceflight would be if we had 12 separate Senator Shelby clones deciding space launch goals.

    “When a society moves from allocating resources by custom and tradition (moderns read here, by politics) to allocating resources by markets, they may be said to have undergone an industrial revolution” Arnold Toynbee-1884

    Europe has long since forgotten this competent definition of industrial society, in favor of Friedrich Engels’ failed “hunks of stuff” definition.

  2. I suspect that one of many flaws in Ariane’s plans is that their argument regarding jobs will fall on deaf ears is many a European capital. The reason is that most European countries get little to nothing out of Ariane, and I highly doubt that, say, Poland is going to want to spend more for a launch to theoretically keep jobs going in France and Germany.

    Looks to me like they’re basically looking at Ariane 6 as a jobs program. They never learn – anytime you make something a jobs program, it fails at both its original purpose and for jobs. (SLS, anyone?)

  3. It’s more than a jobs program. It’s a “national” security issue. Also a political prestige issue. The EU doesn’t want to be wholly dependent on the US or other foreign power for critical space infrastructure such as navigation, military communications, reconnaissance, etc.

    1. This is a key feature of space programs that many people miss.

      You might laugh at SLS and chortle over Ariane. But what those programs do is keep a cadre of trained physicists and engineers ready to be funneled into some national emergency Manhattan-level project.

      In less than a year, an active astrophysicist can be completely functional in another physics field – like working out the physics and designing atomic bombs.

      I’m not saying that atom bombs is the field the leaders have in mind necessarily. It’s just an example.

      1. I think that’s the motivation for inertial confinment fusion. Not that it’s at all likely to be useful for energy production, or even very useful for stockpile stewardship, but it maintains a cadre of physicists versed in the physics of the kind of warm, dense matter that’s in a nuclear weapon.

    2. It’s weird they place the national security asset across an ocean, in what amounts to a colony. Didn’t local protests shut down launches there for a while recently?

  4. Hold On, Hold On…. let me wipe this tear.
    Bwaahahahaa. When Musk first started his company, I remember reading articles about how he was going to fail “How can he possibly compete against a heavily subsidized industry.” Oh well the euro socialist got the jobs program they wanted so I’m sure they consider it a win.

  5. Another Euroweenie jobs/vanity project was the A380 which was a commercial failure and end of production just announced. Looks like the 747 will be in production as a freighter when A380 ends production.

  6. The Ariane program won’t be shut down because Falcon 9 or other US commercial launchers are cheaper. For the same reason it was not shut down despite being much more expensive than both Soyuz and Proton. It is kept in order for the EU to have an independent way to access space. This is particularly important in the current US government sanction heavy environment.

    With regards to Poland and their money, you seem to be clearly out of it with regards to how Arianespace operates. ESA != Arianespace.

    Arianespace is a commercial company and its launcher R&D is funded similarly to European defense projects. In other words you get as much work share as the funds you contributed towards the project. Countries are NOT required to fund these projects. Last I heard Poland did not put a single penny into launcher development.
    Most of the funds for launchers come from France, Germany, and Italy, the other funding is basically residual.

    1. Another example would be Vega. It was to be a mostly solid launcher so the Germans were not interested in funding it. In fact I think they put no investment into it. The Italians said they would fund it by themselves if it came to that. The French eventually came to also fund the program. Because they wanted to improve their solid launcher technology. Because most of the solid infrastructure is shared with their SLBMs. Any improvements into solid rocket technology would have direct military applications.

    2. Also, Arianespace in terms of basic launcher technology has typically been a follower not a leader. They typically mimic the US’s launcher strategy. Which is why the Ariane 6 is the pig it is. It was originally supposed to clone the US Ares program. There were proposals for reusable first stages for over a decade, perhaps two, but they attracted no interest from the government investors which, in the case of France and Italy at least, were mostly interested in keeping the solid rocket technology base more than keeping launch costs low.

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