The battle between France and Germany on how to replace the Ariane 5 rocket continues.


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The battle between France and Germany on how to replace the Ariane 5 rocket continues.

To save money and lower cost, France wants to build a rocket that mostly uses solid rocket motors. Germany however has a problem with this.

German government officials have said they will have difficulty supporting the current Ariane 6 design, which features four identical solid-fueled stages — two as strap-on boosters, and two as the vehicle’s first and second stages — topped by the cryogenic upper stage powered by the same restartable Vinci engine that is the main element of the proposed Ariane 5 upgrade. Germany, through its space agency, the German Aerospace Center, DLR, has said it would prefer a liquid-fueled first stage for Ariane 6 as such a stage could be built in Germany and thus assure a large German industrial role in the program. Without such a role, DLR has said, German support for Ariane 6 might not be forthcoming.

The story above says that France is willing to negotiate with Germany over this, but if they do, they guarantee that Ariane 6 will be a costly rocket to build, making it very unattractive to satellite customers.

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2 comments

  • wodun

    They could strap on their big boy pants and each create their own launcher.

  • Competential

    Four identical stages sound like good economics of scale. I’ve heard that Ariane has successfully lowered costs by producing their rockets in large batches. They certainly seem to be ahead of the Constellation-SLS-reuse-of-the-1980s-space-shuttle-bits-and-pieces concept that NASA is stuck in.

    Germans love complicated stuff. And that’s not the way of rocket science in our days. Simplification and cheapification is what matters now, kind of like a reaction to and maturation of the great waste of space race and military space programs. Germans won’t play any important role in that game, if I may judge them as a collective culture. Enterprenurial Americans and Asians will lead this show, and maybe some pragmatic frenchmen.

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