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ArianeGroup’s transition to Ariane 6 rocket

Link here. It appears that this transition not only includes replacing Ariane 5 with Ariane 6, but also the phase out of Russian Soyuz rockets by 2022. This loss of business is going to hurt Russia, as the government there desperately needs cash with the drop in oil prices.

The article also noted that ArianeGroup will charge two prices for Ariane 6, depending on configuration and payload, $85 million and $130 million per launch. These prices seem high, but because they likely cover the launch of two satellites, customers will be charged half these amounts, $40 million and $65 million, which is competitive in today’s market.

Will these prices be competitive in 2020s? I have my doubts. I estimate, based on news reports, that SpaceX is charging about $40 million today for a launch with a reused first stage, and $62 million for a launch with an entirely new rocket. Give them another five years of development and I expect those prices to drop significantly, especially as they shift to entirely reused first stages for almost every launch and begin to demonstrate a routine launch cadence of more than one launch per month.

This quote below explains how ArianeGroup really intends to stay alive in the launch market:

The price targets assume that European governments — the European Space Agency, the European Commission, Eumetsat and individual EU nations — agree to guarantee the equivalent of five Ariane 62 missions per year, plus at least two missions for the light-lift Vega rocket.

In other words, ArianeGroup really doesn’t wish to compete for business. It wants to use government coercion to force European space agencies and businesses to buy its product. They might get that, but the long term result will be a weak European presence in space, as everyone else finds cheaper and more efficient ways to do things.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!

 

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

 
Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.

 

“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.

 

All editions available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors. The ebook can be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner. Note that the price for the ebook, $3.99, goes up to $5.99 on September 1, 2022.

 

Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.

5 comments

  • Des

    According to esa (http://m.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Transportation/Launch_vehicles/Ariane) the lighter version with two solid boosters, Ariane 62, will be used mainly to launch single payloads so I don’t think it’s cost will be spread over two satellites. It looks very uncompetitive with Spacex.

  • Des: Your link doesn’t work. Can you send it again?

  • Des

    I posted it from my mobile device , here is the link from desktop browser:
    http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Transportation/Launch_vehicles/Ariane_6

    The relevant quotation is:
    “The A62, with two P120 solid boosters, will be used mainly in single-launch configurations, while the A64 – with four P120 solids – will enable double launch of medium-class satellites over 4.5–5 t, mainly for commercial market needs.”

    Dual launches are difficult to setup as they need the two satellites to be going to very similar orbits. It also usually needs co-coordinating timetables of two separate customers.

  • Des. Thank you. This fact makes it clear that ArianeGroup is not really trying to compete in the new launch market. Its new rocket is going to be more expensive than today’s launch prices, which I expect to drop even more by the time Ariane 6 finally begins operation.

  • Edward

    Des wrote: “Dual launches are difficult to setup as they need the two satellites to be going to very similar orbits. It also usually needs co-coordinating timetables of two separate customers.

    Often, Ariane’s customers go to the very popular geostationary orbit. Thus it is not so hard for them to find two satellites going there on similar timetables. There are several other orbital planes that may be more problematic.

    Robert Zimmerman wrote: “This fact makes it clear that ArianeGroup is not really trying to compete in the new launch market. Its new rocket is going to be more expensive than today’s launch prices, which I expect to drop even more by the time Ariane 6 finally begins operation.

    They may not be able to compete on price, but with SpaceX being less expensive (and if Blue Origin is also less expensive) then Ariane may be dependent upon providing overflow protection for when the wait time for a SpaceX (and Blue Origin) launch is too long for some customers.

    From the article: “This follows the decision taken at the ESA Council meeting at Ministerial level in December 2014, to maintain Europe’s leadership in the fast-changing commercial launch service market while responding to the needs of European institutional missions.

    SpaceX has greatly disrupted the launch industry, and as far as I know, only Blue Origin could possibly be on track to compete on price. SpaceX will soon have more launch pads than Arianespace, so SpaceX has an excellent opportunity to overtake Europe in launches.

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