The competition heats up: The European partnership building the new Ariane 6 rocket struggles to keep its costs down to compete with SpaceX.
Ariane 5 has been a huge triumph, orbiting half of the world’s communications satellites and claiming 60% of the 2012 world market for geostationary launches. But while the rocket is extremely precise and reliable it is also hugely expensive, with a single-payload flight costing €150-200 million. However, even at that price Ariane 5 launches are understood to be loss-making for ESA’s launch operator, Arianespace. Its high cost in in large part blamed on its industrial organisation; while private-sector SpaceX has tailored the Falcon programme for low cost production, the Ariane 5 project is organised in part to satisfy the demands of European multi-national politics.
Speaking exclusively to Flight Daily News, ESA’s Stefano Bianchi, who heads the Vega programme and now spends much of his time dedicated to Ariane 6 development, stresses that the programme is on course as set out by ESA’s member states, and any major change of configuration would require ministerial agreement.
But, he says, he and his colleagues are confident they can bring Ariane 6 to fruition at the target launch cost of €70 million – a level that would match or even undercut SpaceX. [emphasis mine]
This story is in connection with the conflict between France and Germany about how to build Ariane 6. I have specifically highlighted the cost figures to illustrate once again the reality that everyone in the industry knows (except for one commenter on my webpage), that the cost of a SpaceX launch runs in the neighborhood of $60 to $100 million, one third to half the cost of Arianespace and significantly less than the cost of practically every other launch company.
Any company that realistically wants to compete with SpaceX has to be totally honest about these facts. Their customers are honest about them, for certain.
Update: The CEO of ULA admits that the real cost of its military launches averages about $225 million per launch.
He claims they can get the cost down to $100 million per launch, but only if the military makes a bulk buy of 50 launches from them, but even that barely competes with SpaceX’s accepted launch fees ranging from $75 to $100 million, per launch. No need to buy 50 rockets from SpaceX to get these prices.
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.
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.