26 thoughts on ““Move Over, SpaceX””

  1. As an aside, I was arguing with someone over green policy (the EU recently mandated the end of new gas-powered cars in 2035) so he pulled out a couple of studies (here and here) that purported to show the financial advantage of “green” firms over “brown” firms (the green-brownness determined by some sort of carbon footprint per revenue measure). Needless to say green firms were higher valued and had less negative press over the past 10 years.

    What was interesting was how this, both the policies and the few years of economic data were spun as some sort of long term thing. I see the same thing here with the bragging over the alleged greenness of the launch vehicle rather than rational economic factors (like cost to orbit).

    I wonder what will happen when the EU hits its Sri Lanka moment with stark choices between survival and greenness.

    1. They assume reusability means lower costs but that doesn’t have to be the case. Just because SpaceX made it work doesn’t mean others will.

    2. Green-caused famine coming? Ah well, as my mother always said, eat those Greens!

      (The words are mom’s, though the capitalization is mine. :-))

      BTW, the EU is already emulating Sri Lanka; the ongoing Dutch Farmer’s protests are a case in point. In the midst of a global famine and supply chain chaos, the Dutch government thought it would be a good idea to impose nitrogen emission restrictions that will cut Dutch food production by 30-40%.

      Farmers are of course furious. So too should be anyone who likes to eat.

  2. …reusable and eco-friendly,
    You are right, that’s hilarious. “Eco-friendly”, snicker. Does it also avoid using that tacky American GPS system as well?

  3. Eco-Friendly = it relies on Green Hydrogen (I’ll ignore the bio-methane since the EU is currently attempting to kill off its best source of bio-methane). I’m well aware of various Green Hydrogen projects in Europe. All rely on several technologies they all claim exist today but won’t come together for several more years. All projects are struggling to be viable, as they barely have financial margin and cannot be certified “green” unless all parts of the eco-value chain are green (and succeed). And that a trade-war with Russia won’t cut off access to cheap gas in the meantime. Oh, and having an abundant supply of fresh water that can be devoted to energy, rather than agriculture and basic drinking water.

    The good news is that the booster doesn’t know the color of hydrogen, and neither will anyone who sees the hydrogen.

    1. Although the second one seems more feasible, I worry that the payload will stay in the lower atmosphere too long. Thermal issues might be a deal breaker.

  4. Those acronyms are hilarious. And:
    The project aims to validate the highly complex landing phase, which is essential for launcher recovery.
    Ms. Josephine really nailed it there. “Essential”. Meaning “kind of important” I guess.
    Clicked on her twit thinger, which includes:
    A new film, made with help from queer dating app Taimi, has used volunteers to tell the stories of real life LGBT+ soldiers, doctors and ordinary citizens during Russia’s invasion. Is this a chance for them to fight for their rights too?
    Josephine, the hard-hitting nature of your brave journalism is inspiring, breathtaking and tremendously uplifting. And all at the same time!

    1. Existential fight against Russia, so why not turn the effort into a gay rights thing? Maybe focus on survival and deal with social stuff if you are still alive next year?

    2. Can’t wait for this generation’s “The launch did not meet all test objectives” memo after it blows up.

    1. I scoffed at the A380 until I flew in one. I found it significantly more comfortable and quiet than a 747.

      1. Indeed nice to fly on. But already out of production, and increasingly being retired and scrapped. Not as competitive as originally hyped, except on select routes.

        1. Also had a problem as it required the next higher class of airport than the 747. For example: Singapore – Perth, Western Australia. The nearest alternate airport is Melbourne, Victoria about 4 hours away. You end up tankering a lot of fuel.

  5. Of course they can lower launch costs. Just like everyone else who is serious about lower cost access to space, they will buy it from Spacex.

  6. If the result of this effort is going to launch from a disused Diamant pad at Kourou, the thing won’t be very big. The Diamant was an Electron-class smallsat launcher.

    Given that no flyable hardware, even in this miniature size class, yet exists, the Euros are now several years behind the Chinese, whose own experiments with reusability via powered landings is roughly on a par with what Armadillo and Masten were doing two decades ago.

    An order-of-magnitude scale-up would be needed to compete even with Falcon 9 but even the toy version will apparently not fly before 2026 – by which time SpaceX will have been landing full-size F9s for over a decade.

    As always, the Euros are seeking to shoot a bird by aiming well behind it, not in front of it. As always, their efforts will prove pointless even if “successful.”

    I was especially amused by ESA’s torturous path to the acronym ‘SALTO.’ This term names a class of move like a flip or somersault in gymnastics and seems quite inapplicable to powered-landing reusability except, ironically, for SpaceX’s Starship.

  7. Probably just amounts to an admission: Sooner rather than later, every spaceship will have to be reusable or be completely priced out of the market. Whether EU can do it or not remains to be seen.

    1. Tory Bruno makes the case that tanks are cheap… if you can get the expensive engines back, bolting them onto new tanks can achieve a lot of the goals of reusability. I’m not 100% convinced, but I think it’s worth conducting the experiment.

  8. So, they publicly scoffed at reusuability, loudly and often, and now they’re… wanting to emulate it.

    Actually, I have every confidence that they can create a reusable rocket that’s “green” too. For the first part, they can attain their goal simply by building a mockup and carting it around to various exhibitions (every exhibition appearance after the first is a re-use).

    As for making it green, that’s simply a matter of which color they choose to paint it.

  9. “As a direct result of this process, ArianeGroup will be heading the SALTO (reuSable strAtegic space Launcher Technologies & Operations) and ENLIGHTEN (European iNitiative for Low cost, Innovative & Green High Thrust Engine) projects.”

    These are possibly the worst acronyms ever. It’s like they’re not even trying.

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