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Getting Their Heads Screwed On Straight?

Is ESA getting serious about reusable vehicles? Too bad NASA can't find a clue.


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Brock wrote:

Their (relatively) low budget may actually be a help here. They were probably misled by Apollo into thinking that big rockets, big budgets was the only way to do things, but then they saw Space Ship One and thought "Hey, if Richard Branson can afford to do this surely we can."

Plus, Russia isn't looking like a reliable partner these days and ESA doesn't even have a Space Shuttle. Desperate times call for innovation.

Dave Salt wrote:

These activities have all been "in the pipeline", in some form or another, for more than a decade. Their aim seems to be to retain a minimum level of RLV design capability in Europe -- something that has been fading away ever since the demise of FESTIP.

My understanding from a few years back was that this sort of technology demonstration work was going to be coordinated through FLPP (N.B. there was/is also supposed to be a joint venture company to perform the work) but, from what Rob reports, it looks like even this has proved difficult.

Personally, I'd be far more encouraged if ESA were to set up some sort of initiative to encourage European versions of XCOR or Armadillo. A promise to purchase large numbers of reusable sounding rocket flights would, I believe, be much more effective than funding these sorts of efforts... though funding both would be even better!

Godzilla wrote:

Phoenix predates the SS1 unveiling to the public.

There are the more visible efforts by NGL Prime with IXV and other FLPP stuff.

There has been some French/Russian low-level cooperation in developing next-generation reusable staged combustion engines and a ESA/Russian
reentry test vehicle called expert.

These are mostly studies with some prototypes. In the end it does not amount to much really. After being burned with Hermes I doubt we will see an ESA reusable vehicle for the next decade at least. Given that
NASA is supposed to be dumping Shuttle it gives ESA even less pressure to keep parity, so to speak.

I expect Vinci to be funded and some Ariane

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on August 27, 2008 9:54 AM.

I Can Live Without The Flying Cars was the previous entry in this blog.

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