Running Scared

France and Germany are studying reusability in rockets. I found this amusing:

The idea for Callisto did come in part as a response to SpaceX, which has now landed 20 boosters and flown five customers on used rockets, but both Astorg and Dittus describe the project as very different.

“It’s not a copy of what SpaceX is doing,” Dittus said. “In some aspects we are also skeptical [about reusability as] the right path, but we will see what is best and then we can come up with ideas of how we proceed.”

Riiiiiiiight.

Meanwhile, Orbital ATK is taking USAF money to try to resurrect Liberty.

When all you have is a hammer…

22 comments on this post.
  1. Pug Sanchez:

    ….try to get the government to pay for your nails, regardless of whether a nail is the right fastener for the job?

  2. Gregg:

    ““What we do on Callisto will be very useful to check if reusability is interesting from a cost point of view,” Astorg said. “That will feed our work in the coming years.” ”

    Check? feed out work in the coming years?????

    In the words of the Great Tom Wolfe (“The Right Stuff”):

    France and Germany are going to be …….

    ……LEFT BEHIND…..

  3. Larry J:

    They’re spending billions developing the Ariane 6. Even if they can develop their reusable system for less money (unlikely), it’s unlikely they can close the business case without massive subsidies.

  4. M Puckett:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84TB8C50nos

  5. Jim Davis:

    Meanwhile, Orbital ATK is taking USAF money to try to resurrect Liberty.

    Where do you get Liberty out that article?

    I vaguely recall a Liberty proposal that would have used left over F-1 and J-2 engines from the ’80s. Gary Hudson was involved if I recall.

  6. Rand Simberg:

    OK, Liberty-ish. It’s an SRB. With solid strap ons.

  7. M Puckett:

    Liberty was the name of Gerry Ford’s dog. Coincidence? I leave that to you to decide.

  8. Tom Billings:

    SRBs with solid strap ons.

    DoD seems really desperate to keep solid fuel production running, …while not admitting that they need new ICBMs sometime. Of course, if I were them, I wouldn’t trust that the next administration after 2024 would be willing to fund new solids plants, either. That dynamic will play out stranger and stranger as time goes on. I still wouldn’t be surprised if the next US ICBM were powered by some sort of ALICE propellant derivative, with freezers wrapped around our new road-mobile ICBMs as they roll down the roads. Hmmmm! Would they have the HEVs be self-driving with an ICBM with nukes aboard????

  9. MfK:

    ALICE doesn’t live here anymore.

  10. M Puckett:

    I think you are thinking of the Jarvis.

  11. Ken anthony:

    I’m sure Elon will sell them a ticket.

  12. Sam P.:

    “Callisto’s current configuration calls for a hydrogen engine, Dittus said.”

    Ummm…. so they’ll need to add strapons?

  13. MfK:

    “The NGL would be stacked in a Vehicle Assembly Building high bay on a mobile launch platform formerly used by shuttles. NASA’s upgraded crawler-transporter would roll the rocket to pad 39B — as long as an SLS wasn’t there.

    So they should be good for another 50 or 60 years….

  14. Paul D.:

    This comment on that post was dead on, IMO:

    “What I believe the largest issue with a program like this is the lack of hardware availability.

    That is, IF this program gets to the stage of having launchable hardware, the program will probably have only one rocket to play with. Then they launch that rocket, something (likely) goes wrong, they get back data and then have to decide to build another rocket with the recommended improvements, or not!

    If we look at SpaceX, after Grasshopper, we notice that they had Falcon 9’s rolling out of the factory at a nice pace and with every launch they were learning and improving, putting the whatever was learned into the next launch! But yeah, the next rocket for the next experiment was always already in line and that is what made SpaceX so fast in developing this capability.

    These guys will never be able to get the experience they hope for unless they commission like 15-20 Callisto’s in a single go and adjust them on the fly based on previous learnings…”

  15. Paul Milenkovic:

    At least Callisto was a nymph, a well-fed nymph in classical paintings, but a nymph nonetheless. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Callisto_(mythology)

    On the other hand, Ganymede was a dude, man.
    http://mythworld.wikia.com/wiki/Ganymede_(mythology)
    Not that there is anything wrong with that!

    Waaaiiit!
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Callisto_(mythology)
    Zeus took on the appearance of a goddess in order to have his way with Callisto?
    Those wacky ESA people!

  16. Jon:

    Europe is decades ahead of us on gender fluidity.

  17. ken anthony:

    Here’s a math problem for ya kiddos… Elon plans to build enough cores to switch production completely to BFRs. With reuse those cores will continue to be used until they can’t be. How long will that give them to ramp up BFR production? Assume 2 F9 for every FH (say 5 central cores and 20 regular cores.)

    Will they do tethered landing tests with BFR? Can they?

  18. wodun:

    Build rate and storage capacity should tell you what you need to know. What is their launch rate goal next year, 40?

    2 +/- 1 year is my uneducated guess.

  19. ken anthony:

    Once they get BFR working the rest of the industry is toast. This may be the last big risk for SpaceX. Nobody is going to catch up.

    They know this. So what will they do?

  20. peterh:

    Eventually someone is going to catch up. It may be several years down the robe after success has breed arrogance, as tends to eventually happen to successful companies.

  21. ken anthony:

    I will be stunned if anyone else comes up with a fully reusable before SpaceX has BFR 2 operating.

    Does anybody have an idea about how they keep a carbon O2 tank from combusting?

  22. Paul D.:

    > Does anybody have an idea about how they keep a carbon O2 tank from combusting?

    I assume it will have some sort of inert inner coating.

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