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Space Technology

Arianespace Ready for Liftoff 93

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the anxiously-awaiting-the-space-elevator dept.
stuckinarut writes to tell us Arianespace is reporting that their newest Ariane dual-satellite ECA mission rolled out of the assembly building and is set for a launch today (Nov 12) at 2345 GMT. This flight is set to demonstrate the massive lift capacity of nearly 10,000 kg and is currently the "only commercial vehicle that can launch two mainstream telecommunications satellite payloads on the same mission."
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Arianespace Ready for Liftoff

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  • This probably won't make a dent in the cost for sat services, but lifting two at a time might not be a bad idea.

    At around 4$/minute for a digital video transmission... it's not exactly the cheapest service in the area. (That's a certain affiliate rate too)
  • Things like the capability to launch two at once will help bring down costs assosicated with space that prevent commercilization. With science not being considered important lately with NASA's financial problems and the lack of anybody giving a damm commercialization of space will become more improtant than ever.
    • on the price / launch and how often it is done. Don't forget that much of the cost of a launch is the support crew. It may actually be cheaper to do multiple launches spreading the fixed cost over more.

      With that said, if there are enough launches, it will lower the costs.
    • by WhiplashII (542766) on Saturday November 12, 2005 @03:52PM (#14016498) Homepage Journal
      I doubt the launch is that much cheaper, and in the long run it definately won't be. Look at it this way - yes, there is a small marginal decrease in launch price as mass increases. But there is a much larger marginal increase in launch price as launch rate goes down. This could have been done in two launches. The vehicle design cost and launch personel cost (the primary cost components) is slightly higher (per kg) for a lower launch mass, but the cost is sunk (you have to pay the people even when you do not launch, and you have to pay interest on your design cost loans even when you do not launch). Essentially, the second launch is almost free! The only reason is doesn't seem that way is cost accounting, where the cost is spread out per flight. A more realistic accounting method is to say that the first flight costs $10B, and every flight thereafter costs only $10M.

      In the free market, most companies know this - but in a government market, no one cares...
      • Wow, if only these highly experienced businessmen with the skill, judgement and determination to make it to the top of large multinational companies had just thought to read Slashdot they could have saved themselves millions by reading your post.

        I bet they never even thought of the money they could save. Companies today, huh ? Splashing around millions and millions of pounds as if there's no tomorrow.
      • You have to pay people even when you do not launch

        You have to pay your people. You don't have to pay your vast network of contractors, and you don't have to increase your labor force to support a higher launch rate.

        With government-funded rocket systems the world over, development costs are not factored into launch costs. Launch costs on the Ariane 5 EC-A are over 10k$/kg, with a full payload at that. Yes, the more frequently you launch, the cheaper the price per kg; however, it doesn't come close to just
      • In the free market, most companies know this

        Ariane operates on a free market. Even if there is no competition.
        • I'll just reply to your comment, though it is a general reply to the above. What makes Ariane different is that all development costs are paid for by the government, to the contractor. The contractor will therefore charge the maximum development cost that he can - and a bigger rocket means a more expensive rocket. In the eyes of a government contractor, this is a very good thing - so they use cost accounting to justify it.

          In the private sector (where by that I mean that private money funds all developmen
  • Also makes it.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Bruha (412869)
    the first mainstream rocket that can destory 2 communications satellites at the same time. From the payload specs 2 very big and expensive ones at that.
    • But also at least when ariane explode you only lose 2 com sat, not 3-4 lives. And probably only a few milliard not a dozen.

      Furthermore let us see how much payload was put by all classic rocket booster in orbit (EU/russian/china), shall we, and how much the shuttle did ? Adn at WHAT price per kilogram ?

      Don't get me wrong I think the shuttle is a wonderful advancement, but let us be honest. When it comes for payload... It don't comes to the ankle of conventional rocket for price, simplicity, frequency,
      • Hey, since you aren't a native English speaker, I figure I'd point out something about your post. "Milliard" is extremely rare in English, and is never used in American dialect. billion is the more common term. I actually had to look up milliard to see what it meant.

        Not trying to be a bother, just trying to be helpful. I'm sure if you saw me try to write in French, you'd point out my errors, too. At least, you'd point out the first few dozen errors, and then give up by the time you got to the second se
        • but keep forgetting. Billion. Not Milliard. And presumably Trillion not trilliard. I will always glady accept correction when they are made as civil as yours. If only I could leanr as easily :).
          • by psicic (171000) on Saturday November 12, 2005 @08:22PM (#14017726) Homepage Journal
            (O/T) As a native English speaker, I was delighted to see you use the term milliard simply because I was always taught by school teachers and 'educated' people that a billion should be defined as 10^12(1,000,000,000,000) but that, as a sop to the overwhelming influence of the American economy and cultural might, billion should be regarded as 10^9(1,000,000,000).

            So, for instance, in Business Studies class, we strictly meant 10^9 if we used the word billion, but in English class, the meaning was much more ambiguous.

            Since the mid-seventies, officially a billion has meant 10^9 in government documents in Britain, Ireland and elsewhere, but its old meaning as 10^12 has remained colloquially. (I left secondary school in 1999, which is fairly recent and it was still possible to use the 10^12 form then).

            My point? Long-scale convention for naming numbers is just as valid as short-scale(see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_and_short_scales [wikipedia.org] ) but if you want the vast majority of people to understand, use the word 'Billion'

            • I read that and it made a lot of sense. I always wondered why billion, with the bi wasn't two millions (multiplied that is, so a million squared). That made a lot of sense. Sigh. Too bad in American English it's deprecated to the point that we have to look up definitions. I haven't even heard older people use that terminology, my parents haven't even heard it before.
  • by JrbM689 (896692) <Jrbm689.mac@com> on Saturday November 12, 2005 @03:39PM (#14016442)
    ...we only blew up one satellite at a time.
    • by paper_boats (872407) on Saturday November 12, 2005 @05:28PM (#14016907)
      I'm sitting in Boeing's Mission Control Center right now. Latest news is that the launch has been cancelled for today, not sure when the next attempt will be.

      I certainly was surprised to see this show up on the front page of slashdot. It's not a super big deal that Ariane is launching two satellites at once, they have done that before. I guess the capacity has increased from the sounds of it? One of the satellites onboard (Spaceway F2) will be one of the largest commercial satellites ever launched. It's sister satellite, Spaceway F1, was launched last April and was successfully delivered to the DirecTV customer this fall. They are both about 6100 kg when fully loaded with fuel.

      Companies may be able to save some money by doing a dual-manifest launch but it can also be a real pain in the ass. This launch was originally supposed to happen in June but the other satellite had problems and had to get sent back to home base to be checked out thus delaying Spaceway F2 also. Plus when you get your own launcher you can have a lot more control over what orbit you are injected into and the launch window. Ariane provides a standard GTO injection with their ECA launcher, which is not the most desireable orbit for some satellites.

  • by CdXiminez (807199) on Saturday November 12, 2005 @03:39PM (#14016444)
    A new Ariane and the Galileo GPS [esa.int] well under way, it seems Europe is into the space race in a very commercial way.
    • by sznupi (719324)
      Not only. Also science stuff.

      You'd know that for a long time already, but Slashdot editors never accepted my entry or any of the few others (from few people I know - one finishes studying English philology, so their poor grammar wasn't the cause).
      Namely: in less than 2 years ESA launches Herschell Space Observatory, which recently was assembled and completed important part of testing. It will be put around L2 (yep, like JWST), operate in infrared (yep), but of course will be put at least 5 years earlier tha
    • A new Ariane and the Galileo GPS well under way, it seems Europe is into the space race in a very commercial way.

      What race is that?

      The physical communal activity that the current state of the world's governmental space programs most resembles is a 'Fun Run,' no winner, no loser, just something they do so they can wear the t-shirt to the neighborhood barbecue.

      Government A:We just launched another satellite.
      Government B:We have plans to land on the Moon within a decade.
      Government C:We've been to th
  • by amightywind (691887) on Saturday November 12, 2005 @03:42PM (#14016451) Journal

    "only commercial vehicle that can launch two mainstream telecommunications satellite payloads on the same mission."

    The shuttle once launched 3 [nasa.gov] geosynchonous satellites in a single mission. This is not a big deal. I am surprised the moderators found it news worthy.

    • I suppose it depends on the cost of this particular rocket as well, given that each shuttle launch costs in the range of a half-billion dollars.
      • I'm sure the cost/satellite or cost/payload pound on almost anything is less than the shuttle. Still, this launch is probably costing a couple 100 $million. Things like this don't come cheap. $200 million compared to $500 million for the shuttle is a significant savings, but it's not astoundingly less. And if you account for other properties of the space shuttle such as the human rating, and deorbit capabilities, the difference shrinks dramatically.

        I think developments like this Ariane are in the wrong dire
        • I think developments like this Ariane are in the wrong direction though. If they designed a rocket from the start that was sized for just one of the satellites it is launching today, it would cost less per launch and would cost less for development.

          AFAIK, you're wrong. First Ariane rockets were smaller. The new model has been designed for two satellites because it is cheaper. No other reason.

          It's sort of like the Airbus A380. How many flight will use the A380 over the next 10 years? How many will conti
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Here are the missing words from your quote: "and is currently the".

    • Sure, the suttle can do a lot of things that comercial vehicles can't do. The point here is the increasing abilities of comercial systems. Think about it, wouldn't you like to see inexpensive satellite services? Well as long as you have to rely on the government (through taxes) or expensive single shot commercial services that isn't going to happen. The sooner that commercial services eclipse NASA the better we will all be, or the better the national space program for China will be at least.
    • by Jeff DeMaagd (2015) on Saturday November 12, 2005 @03:52PM (#14016497) Homepage Journal
      Maybe you missed the connection that the Space shuttle is a government vehicle, and is not accepting or launching commercial payload? Actually, it's not launching anything right now.
      • They made countless promises about what the shuttle could do while it was been built, in order to get funding.

        Non of those promises ever panned out, except for hubble servicing, which they are no longer doing because it's "too dangerous".

        As a launch platform that had specific design goals, it has failed miserably.

        Unmanned rockets/satellites/probes such as the Ariane is where true space exploration lies. If something goes wrong it doesn't take lives with it. It is inherently more practical.
        • by roystgnr (4015)
          Unmanned rockets/satellites/probes such as the Ariane is where true space exploration lies. If something goes wrong it doesn't take lives with it. It is inherently more practical.

          How much would you have to be paid for a job on which you had a 2% chance of dying? I'd do it for $400K even if it didn't let me go to orbit. Even if you assume for some reason that high performance vehicle pilots are more risk-averse than I am, you're still not going to come up with a cost to life that exceeds the cost of the mo
      • Maybe you missed the connection that the Space shuttle is a government vehicle, and is not accepting or launching commercial payload?

        Are you suggesting that the Arianne V is a commercial vehicle developed by a few free market entrepreneurs? How ridiculous! Its development was subsidized by Europe to the tune of billions of Euros. Niether it nor the US EELV's will ever loft enough commercial payloads to pay for its development.

    • The US Space Program should not be concerned with being commercially successful. Let private enterprise take care of putting commercial satellites in space. The capability is there now. The Space Program needs to return to its roots. It needs to return to space exploration, going to the next frontier. NASA seems to have lost its way. It is no longer made up of the best and the brightest as it once was. Certainly we shouldn't just throw money away but I think most Americans would still support the expense of
      • US Space program (NASA) should be concerned with two things: Science missions (other planets, astronomy, Earth observation) which no one will or can make a buck on. How many and priority should be based on national desire (first is a function of budget, determined by Congress--second is function of NASA director, which is determined by President). The other is manned exploration. To be honest, this one is of limited value compared to the science missions. The new NASA direction may fix some of the nega
    • The shuttle is a bulky, overpriced Delta IV booster when they used it to fire satellites into orbit.

      What needed to be done is to utilize the shuttle in building the Large Communications Arrays that they had been planning on ever since the inception of the RLV programs.

      But noo, NASA had to use the shuttles in their PR campaign by blowing taxpayer dollars in putting itty bitty commo and recon birds into orbit.

      Pretty much the only birds that actually were worth the E-Ticket were the Magellan Probe and Hubble T
    • Yeah but that was 20 years ago. Just like USA used to be able to land on the Moon 30 years ago. Try it right now and you will see that USA is not capable of doing these things anymore. It just costs too much for you to pay for it.

      Now, take China. It seems quite likely that they will rule the world in 20 years time. 1 billion people working for the government, you just can't beat that.

      • Yeah but that was 20 years ago. Just like USA used to be able to land on the Moon 30 years ago. Try it right now and you will see that USA is not capable of doing these things anymore. It just costs too much for you to pay for it.

        I'm sure it is an attractive prospect for you, but you are dillusional. The post shuttle expendable launch vehicles use the best of shuttle technology that NASA has mastery of already - the SSME, shuttle tankage, and the SRB. The the effort fits within NASA's budget, minus the

    • I agree that this launch isn't a big deal, but for other reasons than you suggest.

      First of all, the shuttle doesn't launch things to GTO because it itself cannot go to GTO. It launches things to LEO and then the satellites themselves will boost their orbit to GTO, and finally to geosynchronous orbit.

      Second, three satellites is no big deal either. For on flight V165, an Ariane 5 launched not one, not two, not three but 7 satellites. Granted one of them was a nano-satellite that weighted only 20kg. Likewise,
  • Launch Costs (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Aren't going to change if the same launch vehicles keep getting used. You need economies of scale to bring down costs, and the only ones who have accomplished that so far are the Russians (they've launched more than double the missions of all the other spacefaring countries combined). The only hope is with companies like Microcosm (www.smad.com) who are working diligently to develop low cost launch vehicles.....
  • A lot of people here are under the impression that this is the first launch vehicle to launch two satelites at a time, but it isn't. The key words here are "mmainstream telecommunications satellite payloads". Indeed, launching more than a single satelite per launch is more or less standard fare already. Probably what is new here, is the size and weight of each of the two satelites.
  • Since the Arianne ECA hasn't lifted off yet and the word "commercial" in France is a relative term, it's hard to believe it's the only commercial vehicle that can launch two telecommunications satellites.

    The delta IV could lift slightly more than the Arianne ECA. Before it failed its test flight, it too was the only commercial vehicle that could launch two telecommunications satellites.

    Despite the fact that u.s. is clearly inferior in this game, one has to wonder if the centralized funding of this rocket i
  • It's a great idea. I hope it works - if it doesn't, then they trash not just one, but two Very Expensive(tm) communications satellites. I know testing rockets like this is expensive, but in the face of destroying expensive satellites, I think the cost of test launches with dummy payloads is well worth it. Based on the article, it looks like the test launch is a real mission with real Very Expensive(tm) payloads, an insurance claim waiting to happen. I'm sure that being a private company handling expensive p
  • Sea launch http://www.sea-launch.com/ [sea-launch.com] successfully launched an almost 6,000kg EADS-built satellite to orbit for Inmarsat.

    Sea Launch continues their record of being one of the most (the most?) reliable satellite launching system and the most cost-effective.

    And they also show that despite what other posters have said, the US is not far behind in this area.

    But note that Sea Launch isn't an American company only. In fact, their successes have been atop Russian and Russian-derived launch vehicles.
    • And they also show that despite what other posters have said, the US is not far behind in this area.

      snigger....

      But note that Sea Launch isn't an American company only. In fact, their successes have been atop Russian and Russian-derived launch vehicles. Ah, you have it there. Sea Launch vehicles are completely built and operated by russians. Even worse, Russian technicians are not allowed to see the payload being mounted to the rocket because "They might steal the technology". What technology? For 40 yea

      • Valentin Bondarenko who died in a simulator accident in 1961. Oh, and they didn't admit it until 1986. And 50 people who died fueling a Vostok rocket to accept a military satellite in 1980. And we didn't find out about that for more than 5 years.

        Let me just say I don't have much reason to believe there weren't additional deaths too.

        But I don't understand, is this some kind of contest? Should I be picking on the Russians for knocking off the US space shuttle in making the Buran? Is using Russian rocket parts
    • The simplest, most capable, most flexible and most reliable commercial launch vehicle is the Atlas with 77 consecutive successful launches. Atlas can also lift multiple payloads but there is very little call for this sort of stuff. That is because the vehicle can be efficiently reconfigured to match the desired payload mass and orbital energy. The Ariane V is unable to do that and hence they MUST double manifest to be competitive. The following link illustrates current Atlas V capability.

      http://en.wiki [wikipedia.org]

    • When I think of Sea Launch, I think BOOM!
      Sea Launch Fails to Deliver ICO Satellite [space.com]
  • Hah! So I'm a few hours late, and I click on the link in the top and..


    The launch of Arianespace's heavy-lift Ariane 5 ECA is postponed

    A problem encountered during final preparations of the Ariane 5 ECA launcher has resulted in a postponement of the dual-satellite mission scheduled for this evening.
  • This just in from the Arianespace website [arianespace.com]:

    "A problem encountered during final preparations of the Ariane 5 ECA launcher has resulted in a postponement of the dual-satellite mission scheduled for this evening.

    A new date will be announced in the next few hours."
  • according to wikipedia, the Ariane 5 ECA launcher alredy made its first successful flight on february, also it did launch 3 satellites at a time during this flight ...
  • by Alderin1 (921899) on Saturday November 12, 2005 @08:14PM (#14017692)
    According to an inside source, the postponement came as a result of several of their servers becoming overwhelmed causing shutdown, when the news was posted on a very popular "Geek" website known as Slashdot.
  • I was visualizing a myspace.com type site targetted at White Supremacists.

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