Ariane NEXT Unfunded Vision

A 2020 research paper provides an overview of the current status of the Ariane NEXT (20282030 reusable) launch system definition and economic analysis, and development status.

Anyone can propose a reusable rocket concept that might technically work. However, figuring out how to eventually make it affordable is very different. SpaceX has sucked all of the commercial launch revenue oxygen out of the world.

Ariane NEXT would halve the costs of European launchers in 2030s. The proposed Ariane NEXT is not funded. It is a Launch system design with a standardized architecture and evaluating LOx-LCH4. It has reusability as an option.

Ariane Next’s 4 mains demonstrators programs: Callisto, Prometheus, Themis, Icarus.

In 2021, the European Space Agency (ESA) hired three rocket companies to spend four months evaluating what Europe’s launch-service landscape will look like between 2030 and 2050. Ariane 5 and Ariane 6 prime contractor ArianeGroup, Vega medium-lift launcher prime Avio SpA, small-launcher startup Rocket Factory Augsburg. ESA is having trouble funding Ariane 6 in 2021-2023.

In October 2020, ESA formally requested an additional €230 million in funding from the countries sponsoring the project to complete the development of the rocket and get the vehicle to its first test flight, which had slipped to the second quarter of 2022.

Ariane 6 is being developed in a public-private partnership with the ESA governments providing €2.815 billion and €400 million from private industry.

The ESA Council approved the Ariane 6 project on 3 November 2016, and the ESA Industrial Policy Committee released the required funds on 8 November 2016.

In January 2020, the European Investment Bank, in partnership with the EC, made a €100 million loan to Arianespace drawing from the Horizon 2020 and Investment Plan for Europe corporate investment programs. The 10-year loan’s repayment is tied to the financial success of the Ariane 6 project.

Europe can either choose to spend a lot of money to make their own reusable rocket or they can just use the SpaceX Super Heavy Starship and other SpaceX rockets. Europe can spend on new space stations and other space projects. It will likely cost €10 billion to €30 billion to make a fully reusable rocket initially like the Falcon 9 and then evolving to the Super Heavy Starship. However, it will be too expensive for them to compete with SpaceX for launches. SpaceX as the first mover has lower-cost launch so they can profitably launch Falcon 9 to pay for the fully reusable Super Heavy Starship development. Europe and China and other competitors will have to adopt the steel rocket and rapid development methods of SpaceX.

The Airbus 380 Jumbo jet program was started in 2000 after the 1989 introduction of the Boeing 747. They spent €9.5 billion and the first Airbust 380 was delivered in 2007.

SpaceX is a more aggressive company than Boeing. Rocket development that is not rapidly testing rocket flights every month and then every week will not be able to match the pace of SpaceX development.

SOURCES – Acta Astronautica – Ariane Next, a vision for the next generation of Ariane Launchers, Wikipedia
Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com