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Looks like Ariane has realized it's in trouble

Discussion in 'SpaceX' started by mspohr, May 21, 2018.

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  1. mspohr

    mspohr Well-Known Member

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  2. ccutrer

    ccutrer Active Member

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    Wow, that's amazing! Sad, because I like Ariane far more than ULA. But such a 180 in perspective after years of detractors saying reusability and lower prices is dumb.
     
  3. YoungStranger

    YoungStranger Member

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    Not exactly great leadership there... I’m sure he is well qualified, but shouldn’t he be galvanising people and coming up with a strategic vision rather than just whinging... Truth is they have not dismissed reusability for business reasons, but because they have not invested.
    There is no cap on this market. Space is pretty much infinite, so the marke5 too is infinite.
     
  4. Electroman

    Electroman Well-Known Member

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    This paragraph makes no sense. Put two arbitrary statements with no correlation and somehow imply a correlation.

    Its like Trump-talk. Gibberish.
     
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  5. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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    He seems fundamentally unqualified to lead Arianespace into the 21st century.

    Yes, he should. But instead he is just complaining, while his company becomes irrelevant.
     
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  6. Grendal

    Grendal SpaceX Moderator

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    Eric Berger sure does a very good job of pointing out the flaws and hypocrisy in Alain Charmeau's position.
     
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  7. Electroman

    Electroman Well-Known Member

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    Here is an idea, that I recommend for Ariane (or any industry) that is worried about being efficient and saving money, might mean loss of jobs: How about implement reusability, save money, and then pay your workers that you would have laid off otherwise to simply sit at home and do some other productive work.

    You have two choices:

    - Pay workers to continue to make lot of expensive rockets and throw them way.
    - Pay workers not to make lot of expensive rockets but instead re-use the few you make.

    If these are my only two choices I will gladly choose the later.
     
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  8. Grendal

    Grendal SpaceX Moderator

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    This is what disruption means, This what disruption looks like. Change is painful and never easy.
     
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  9. Zaxxon

    Zaxxon Supporting Member

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    FTFY. :)

    Berger is a fantastic asset to Ars. He's one of a few writers over there that made me commit to an Ars Pro sub to support their continued good work.
     
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  10. Lozza12

    Lozza12 Member

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    They could always cut their losses and volunteer to build BFR....
     
  11. mongo

    mongo Well-Known Member

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    Realistically, how many launches at what premium over SpaceX can they get/ will it take to recoup funding the development of a reusable rocket? Is it fiscally viable at this point, or only feasible by getting national funding?
     
  12. GWord

    GWord Member

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    Possibly something being lost in translation.
     
  13. mspohr

    mspohr Well-Known Member

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    I think the part lost in translation is between reality and his brain. He seems totally blindsided by the fact that SpaceX can launch faster and cheaper than anyone else and he does not want to face the reality of the amount of work that it would take to get to where SpaceX is today. He's been living in a protected cocoon of fat contracts with no competition and cannot imagine any other reality.
     
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  14. GWord

    GWord Member

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    Lol! That too.

    I wonder if he is friends with Steve Ballmer:

    “There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance. It’s a $500 subsidized item. They may make a lot of money. But if you actually take a look at the 1.3 billion phones that get sold, I’d prefer to have our software in 60 percent or 70 percent or 80 percent of them, than I would to have 2 percent or 3 percent, which is what Apple might get,”—in a 2007 interview with USA Today.
     
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  15. bxr140

    bxr140 Active Member

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    First, I'd like to point out the irony of most large conglomerates--especially in Aerospace and Defense--complaining about government subsidies. Ariane, ULA, Boeing, Airbus...you name it, they're all as much jobs programs as commercial entities. Hell, the US military supply base is essentially socialism packaged as the A&D industry... (Note, I don't view The S Word as a binary concept...)

    Anyhoo...SpaceX is the oddball where Elon basically doesn't give a *sugar* about money (or at least he's not scared of making huge and potentially risky investments) and he doesn't have to answer to The Man when it comes to things like product design, pricing, scheduling/timing, etc. That approach that opens up a whole new paradigm of reward; like @Grendal said already, that is how disruption works. The crazy part is that, at least at the top level, SpaceX isn't doing anything conceptually new other than execution.

    Its a bummer for me personally because I like working with Ariane way more than working with SpaceX, but empires unwilling to change are destined to fall. There's certainly room for more than one rocket company in the world, but at the risk of stating the obvious, Ariane--who was the undisputed leader in heavy launch capability for many years--is going to have to compete on the shiney new commercial playing field built by SpaceX and not the other way around. Or, you know, be relegated to state-sponsored status like the Delta family.

    IMHO, Ariane could try to play catch-up with SpaceX, which is probably losing battle especially with the deep pockets of BO playing in that space also, OR...there might be an interesting play to try and disrupt the the small launcher space. Its basically a world of startups right now with Rocket Lab in the lead, but importantly there's a potentially huge smallsat market incubating that could be well served by Ariane's access to European manufacturing power. Currently there's no good way to place a small spacecraft in a specific orbit on a dedicated launch vehicle. Its all rideshares on 'larger' launch vehicles, where you basically end up in the Primary's orbit after having to deal the schedule delays of all your co-passengers. If you can get exactly where you want to go, when you want to go, on your own dedicated rocket that's an attractive solution. To Ariane's benefit in this concept Electron doesn't really exist yet, and gut feel is that Rocket Lab will really struggle with all the boring stuff that Ariane has been doing in their sleep for decades now., like lgistics, customer relations, analysis, etc. Ariane more than anyone else right now could really Big Fish that market, especially with SpaceX and BO putting their resources into larger rockets. Shades of Boeing vs Airbus, as it were. Just reversed...

    Furthermore, that's probably going to be pretty sustainable market too, because most people aren't going to be able to afford the mega constellations that necessitate a bunch of mega rockets. So while the Starlinks and onewebs of the world will certainly sustain heavy lift demand (if they ever get off the ground...) most players--including GEOcomm--are investigating smaller as a solution.

    For a price comparison, an Electron is about the same price as an equivalent-ish rideshare on a Spaceflight F9. Interesting times, these.

    I'd say developing the capability is many hundreds of millions. Let's call it $500. Few people will be willing to pay a [again, let's call it] $20M premium over an equivalent SpaceX launch for a 25 unit ROI, so its going to be REALLY hard for Ariane to make any kind of case to any kind of investor that isn't state run. Layer on the amount of effort they've already sunk into 6 and sprinkle some pride on top of that, and getting a European launcher to directly compete with a Falcon 9 is pretty much a non-starter, IMHO.
     
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  16. mongo

    mongo Well-Known Member

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    Great post!. The other problem for those seeking to develop a new rocket is that, by the time they are done, they will not completing against Falcon 9, but BFR. Claimed to be so reusable you can use it to fly around the planet... Who wants to go up against that?
     
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  17. bxr140

    bxr140 Active Member

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    Its going to be interesting to see how far downmarket reusability will go. Intuitively it feels like a Vega class lifter would do well to be reusable like a F9. Electron class? Not sure, especially when you factor the non-recurring effort to develop reusability vs capacity. Its really interesting with SpaceX because they have both for F9 (and presumably BFR), mostly because, again, Elon doesn't care much about investment and return. So for them, how will the former affect the later? If you can build a bunch of rockets every year but only need a handful because they're all multi-use, did you optimize your cost structure? Or in SpaceX's case maybe you're ok because heavy launcher demand (both internal with Starlink and external) is going to be high enough that the historical factory capacity building disposable rockets aligns with the future capacity building reusable rockets...

    With a significantly smaller launcher at a potentially significantly higher volume, where is the inflection point of putting investment into production capacity vs reusability...if there even is an inflection point? What if there were 100 electron class launches a year? 200? 365?

    Again, interesting times...
     
  18. Cosmacelf

    Cosmacelf Well-Known Member

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    Ariane was doomed as soon as SpaceX flew their Falcon 9. The now departed VP of commercial sales at SpaceX told us a story a few years ago where SpaceX executives actually did a presentation in front of Ariene executives outlining in some detail how SpaceX manufactures their rockets and how they can be so cost effective. The Ariane executives essentially said “we cannot possibly run our company like that” due to their political realities. Ariane has no choice but to subcontract their rockets to death parting out subsystems to different countries. The core mission of Ariane is to help politicians get elected. Putting satellites in orbit is just a byproduct.
     
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  19. IdaX

    IdaX Member

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    Ariane bet against reusable rockets once before -- in the 1980s when the US was touting the price advantages of the Space Shuttle. They won that round. Until now they've been betting that they would win this round, too, but I think that it's finally dawning on them that they're probably going to lose this time.
     
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  20. Grendal

    Grendal SpaceX Moderator

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    Sounds like ULA and most USA based government backed programs. The fixed price commercial NASA programs change that paradigm.
     

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