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Ariane 5 Has No Chance, Says Elon Musk

timothy posted about a year and a half ago | from the when-tony-stark-talks-people-listen dept.

Space 188

Dupple writes with some remarks by SpaceX founder Elon Musk, as reported by the BBC, on the Ariane 5 launch vehicle: Musk is anything but a disinterested party, but he has some especially harsh words for the ESA rocket: "'I don't say that with a sense of bravado but there's really no way for that vehicle to compete with Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy. If I were in the position of Ariane, I would really push for an Ariane 6.' Ariane's future will be a key topic this week for European Space Agency (Esa) member states. They are meeting in Naples to determine the scope and funding of the organisation's projects in the next few years, and the status of their big rocket will be central to those discussions."

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status of their big rocket (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42025957)

Sorry, failed at reading this with a straight face.

Re:status of their big rocket (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42025979)

I've seen Musk's "big rocket" after we had a date last night. It was tiny and limp. A twizzler puts it to shame. Dude is trying to compensate for something big time with his sports cars and rocket making.

Re:status of their big rocket (2)

Chrisq (894406) | about a year and a half ago | (#42026367)

I've seen Musk's "big rocket" after we had a date last night. It was tiny and limp. A twizzler puts it to shame. Dude is trying to compensate for something big time with his sports cars and rocket making.

But you have to admit he is much cheaper than Ariane.

Re:status of their big rocket (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42026483)

You get what you pay for, I guess. Pencil dicks aren't really my thing, though.

Re:status of their big rocket (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42026045)

So is that a big rocket in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

Space company founder trash-talks competition... (1)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | about a year and a half ago | (#42025971)

... news at eleven.

Re:Space company founder trash-talks competition.. (3, Insightful)

ArsonSmith (13997) | about a year and a half ago | (#42026029)

Yea, just wait until some "Regulation" comes his way. You can't compete on a level play field with Government.

Re:Space company founder trash-talks competition.. (1)

Kergan (780543) | about a year and a half ago | (#42026049)

Especially with governments who have traditionally viewed keeping this kind of know-how a matter of national security.

Re:Space company founder trash-talks competition.. (2)

icebraining (1313345) | about a year and a half ago | (#42026069)

And what government would that be?

Re:Space company founder trash-talks competition.. (2)

ArsonSmith (13997) | about a year and a half ago | (#42026151)

Did you want a list? The governments of: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Happy?

Re:Space company founder trash-talks competition.. (1)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | about a year and a half ago | (#42026325)

Especially with governments who have traditionally viewed keeping this kind of know-how a matter of national security.

And what government would that be?

Did you want a list? The governments of: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Happy?

Not really, Space X is a US company with it's headquarters and launch sites in the USA, those countries can regulate all they want without affecting Elon Musk and Space X in any way. The only regulations Space X has to worry about are Uncle Sams's, and possibly the eventuality that the Pan Galactic Transport Authority might slam Space X with a fine for launching space trash into their hyperspace bypass.

Re:Space company founder trash-talks competition.. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42026723)

Completely wrong.

EU legislation can make the market for Space X very limited and increase the cost per launch due to reduced launch frequency of Space X. You want a concrete example of this. For years India's ISRO had the cheapest launch vehicle for LEO. (This is distinct from their GSLV program which hasn't been very successful). PSLV has an excellent success rate and is cheap. For years they tried to get other countries to launch their satellites on the PSLV. None of the countries placed their satellites on the PSLV.

There is US legislation which prevented any satellite, even a civilian satellite which used US components being launched by countries outside the approved list of launchers, EU, US or Russia. I am not sure if China is now on the list as well. India got on the list a couple of years ago. Now they launch LEO satellites for Israel, France, SE asia and a growing list of countries. It's not just the cost it's legislation.

EU could very well just legislate for satellites with EU made components to be EU launch only. Or they could just legislate to have all government funded direct or indirect funding to be EU launch vehicles only. Or EU could legislate for all EU television channels to hire only EU launched satellite transponders and if EU television channels need to lease transponders on non EU satellites for broadcast in EU require them to get a governmental waiver which oh just takes 9 months to a year to process. This is just the tip of the ice-burg.

Don't for a minute think none of this will happen as there will be retaliation from US. So you won't let your satellites launch on our platform good for you. Think of the only two aircraft manufacturers in the world. It's the same equation here. Some countries cannot or will not be allowed to launch their satellites from US. All of them have to use EU.

Space-x is being delusional here. The market is pretty big and governments will win most of the time. It's also about diplomacy. You launch your puppy on ours we will scratch your back in the UN, WTO and in that free trade agreement.

Re:Space company founder trash-talks competition.. (1)

khallow (566160) | about a year and a half ago | (#42027405)

EU legislation can make the market for Space X very limited and increase the cost per launch due to reduced launch frequency of Space X.

ESA != EU. They still have to get non-EU players, Norway and Switzerland to go along. If that means that their space industry is precluded from using the best competitor in the field, then it's going to hurt the EU in the long term.

Re:Space company founder trash-talks competition.. (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | about a year and a half ago | (#42026863)

We shall see.

Re:Space company founder trash-talks competition.. (1)

Yoda222 (943886) | about a year and a half ago | (#42027681)

Wrong.

EU can take a law restricting exportation of weapon and include satellite in it. Two of the top six satellite manufacturer are european. Such a move would reduce the SpaceX market, but would probably be a bad move.

And EU could also decide to create an ambitious space program and decide to overpaid the launcher company, which could in turn reduce the price of commercial launch. Like SpaceX and US gouvernment.

Re:Space company founder trash-talks competition.. (2)

captainpanic (1173915) | about a year and a half ago | (#42026137)

Arianespace is a private company, with private shareholders.

http://www.arianespace.com/about-us-corporate-information/shareholders.asp [arianespace.com]

Re:Space company founder trash-talks competition.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42026159)

Arianespace is a private company, with private shareholders.

http://www.arianespace.com/about-us-corporate-information/shareholders.asp [arianespace.com]

And they are the only possible competition SpaceX could ever have, right? With no government players involved anywhere in this industry, right?

Or maybe, just maybe, the summary mentioning two private companies doesn't take away a posters' freedom to bring up other related topics. Wow! Isn't that a mind-expanding thought?

Re:Space company founder trash-talks competition.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42026345)

Arianespace is a private company, with private shareholders.

http://www.arianespace.com/about-us-corporate-information/shareholders.asp [arianespace.com]

And how many of these shareholders are government owned?

It's a common problem with 'big space'. (4, Insightful)

queazocotal (915608) | about a year and a half ago | (#42025991)

To paraphrase part of TFA 'We can save money by developing X with components from Y', this is why it's cheaper to now spend money on Y.

Versus a clean-sheet design.

Combine that with SpaceX's largely integrated workflow, with minimal external contractors, and you have extreme problems for traditional aerospace to meet the costs.

Contracts are granted not on the basis of what would make the overall system cheaper, but electoral politics.

And if SpaceX gets even limited reusability working - http://phys.org/news/2012-11-spacex-story-reuseable-grasshopper-rocket.html [phys.org] - the price crashes further.

Competition (1)

A10Mechanic (1056868) | about a year and a half ago | (#42025993)

Competition always brings out the best (or worst) in any Endeavour. Single-source-vendor vs. multiple vendors for heavy lift into LEO or Async? Hmm....

Re:Competition (1)

queazocotal (915608) | about a year and a half ago | (#42026111)

If the vendors are in true free competition, arguably.
The current vendors are basically not funded in general as rocket launch companies.
They are funded as aerospace/military welfare organisations.
Any launches that happen are a side-effect.

If your primary goal as a legislator is to get jobs for your constituents, it's quite easy to insist that technology X must be included in the vehicle - because you have a massive plant in your constituency doing X.

This does not result in good values for purchasers of the rockets launch capabilities.

Musk is a scam artist (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42026023)

This guy is a scam artist.

He founded PayPal which has ripped off countless people.

He founded Tesla which has yet to produce a car which is
more than an expensive toy that few people can afford.

Frankly, if you are impressed by what Musk has done,
that's enough to determine that you have poor analytical skills
are are instead swayed by shiny things.

Re:Musk is a scam artist (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year and a half ago | (#42026079)

He founded Tesla which has yet to produce a car which is more than an expensive toy that few people can afford.

How is that a scam? Who's forcing you to buy a Tesla?

Re:Musk is a scam artist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42026165)

I being forced to pay for it though taxes in the form of government loans and tax breaks to those that purchase these vehicles.

Re:Musk is a scam artist (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42026249)

I being forced to pay for it though taxes in the form of government loans and tax breaks to those that purchase these vehicles.

Here's a hint for you -- the $7500 tax credit is just that -- a credit on taxes. The car costs $100k.

Odds are the buyers are paying more in taxes than most people on Slashdot make, so guess what? Its *their* taxes that are paying for those vehicles, not yours.

As someone who pays well into the six figures in just federal income tax, let me be the first to say "fuck you". *My* taxes are paying for those discounts. *My* taxes are paying for your schools. *My* taxes are more than an order of magnitude higher than any benefits *I* get from the government.

And guess what? *I* am not so fucking shortsighted as to complain that my taxes are going to things that help the country, and help the environment.

Re:Musk is a scam artist (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42026331)

Thank you. You are a good citizen and a patriot.

Re:Musk is a scam artist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42026357)

So they don't need the tax credit and $7500 would be better spent else ware.

Re:Musk is a scam artist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42026439)

$7500 would be better spent else ware

Yeah, like, oh I don't know, encouraging people with means to invest in alternative energy powered personal conveyances! That's a fucking thought, isn't it?

Re:Musk is a scam artist (0)

0123456 (636235) | about a year and a half ago | (#42026525)

Yeah, we should totally be taking money from poor people and giving it to the 1% who can afford to blow $60k dollars on a toy car.

Re:Musk is a scam artist (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42026977)

Yeah because it's a negative sum economy and that money would have went directly to the poor people that need it. How is life in the Hollywood movie you live in?

Re:Musk is a scam artist (-1, Offtopic)

0123456 (636235) | about a year and a half ago | (#42027009)

That money was going to the poor people until the government stole it to give to the 1%.

I honestly don't know how anyone can support taking money from someone working on a low wage to give to some finance fat-cat to go towards buying a new car they can show off to their coworkers for a few days. So I'm not surprised you're posting anonymously.

Re:Musk is a scam artist (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42027159)

That money was going to the poor people until the government stole it to give to the 1%.

If you want to talk about economic theft, who do you think the government "stole" that money from in the first place? Who do you think pays most of the taxes? Who do you think provides the jobs? Who do you think invests their money back into the economy? The great thing about having your simplistic view of class warfare is the so-called "1 percent" will always be here for you to villainize no matter how prosperous everybody else is. Even in the most socialist and centrally planned economies there is a top 1 percent.

I honestly don't know how anyone can support taking money from someone working on a low wage to give to some finance fat-cat to go towards buying a new car they can show off to their coworkers for a few days.

I see you peeing yourself in spasmodic glee over your populist misinterpretation of my arguments. Enjoy.

So I'm not surprised you're posting anonymously.

Using a computer at an actual place of work without sending credentials over the wire. Not that you would know anything about that I'm sure.

Re:Musk is a scam artist (3, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | about a year and a half ago | (#42027265)

If you want to talk about economic theft, who do you think the government "stole" that money from in the first place? Who do you think pays most of the taxes? Who do you think provides the jobs? Who do you think invests their money back into the economy? The great thing about having your simplistic view of class warfare is the so-called "1 percent" will always be here for you to villainize no matter how prosperous everybody else is. Even in the most socialist and centrally planned economies there is a top 1 percent.

C'mon, Mitt. I know you're out of work, but surely you've got better things to do than post on Slashdot.

Re:Musk is a scam artist (0)

Dishevel (1105119) | about a year and a half ago | (#42028205)

I have to say that ...
A) Most money that the government spends is taken from the rich.
B) Almost all non defense spending is going to the poor.
If you want to let the rich have more of the money that they worked for I am ok with that. (Lower their fucking taxes.)
Do not give a $7500 tax break for a fucking electric toy.

Re:Musk is a scam artist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42027307)

Uhm, what about ALL TAX money- it gets distributed to the people - poor or rich. This isnt about subsidizing the rich, it's about investing in new technology.

Re:Musk is a scam artist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42026631)

*My* taxes are more than an order of magnitude higher than any benefits *I* get from the government.

And guess what? *I* am not so fucking shortsighted as to complain that my taxes are going to things that help the country, and help the environment.

So in other words, your first sentence is not true. Sorry dude, but you haven't done any actual analysis to demonstrate what benefits you get from the government.

Yeah, I know it's so common to think that those people on Welfare get all the benefits, while you get nothing. But you want to know who profits from Welfare?

Wal-Mart. That's right, they do.

You? I don't pretend to know you, but I don't think you should be so blithely claiming you pay an order of magnitude higher than any benefits you get from the government.

That said, I have no problem with the Tesla tax credit. All those internal combustion cars get their subsidies too, it's just not obvious what parking an Aircraft Carrier in the Persian Gulf is about.

Re:Musk is a scam artist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42027045)

Yeah, I know it's so common to think that those people on Welfare get all the benefits, while you get nothing. But you want to know who profits from Welfare?

Wal-Mart. That's right, they dov

I'm Sorry. I ialmost took You seriously until You compared a private citizen's economic status to that of a multinational conglomerate. Troll harder.

Re:Musk is a scam artist (2)

Black Parrot (19622) | about a year and a half ago | (#42027149)

Here's a hint for you -- the $7500 tax credit is just that -- a credit on taxes. The car costs $100k.

Yes, people who buy $100,000 toys really need the tax break.

Re:Musk is a scam artist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42027361)

Yes, people who buy $100,000 toys really need the tax break.

Obviously the government sees spending the 7,500 dollars as a wise investment. Nobody has a crystal ball but Musk is making a solid effort with Tesla to make electric cars a practical reality. That is something that can help us all since eventually we will be paying to clean up the mess made by our internal combustion powered automobiles and I guarantee you our great grandchildren will see that 7,500 dollars as quite a bargain then if it incentivizes people to plunk the 100k down on that electric roadster who otherwise would not.

Economics and long term planning are obviously not your strong point so maybe try to shut up and learn something.

Re:Musk is a scam artist (5, Insightful)

Black Parrot (19622) | about a year and a half ago | (#42027163)

*My* taxes are more than an order of magnitude higher than any benefits *I* get from the government.

So move to Somalia.

Oh, wait - maybe you are getting something for your money.

Re:Musk is a scam artist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42027269)

So move to Somalia.

Oh, wait - maybe you are getting something for your money.

Ask yourself this. What preceded what, Somalia being in a terrible state of warfare, mass starvation, and daily terror from various warlords, or the dissolution of a recognized government. If you're honest you'll admit that using Somalia as an example of how an anarchist society could be is disingenuous at best.

Re:Musk is a scam artist (1)

Xest (935314) | about a year and a half ago | (#42027623)

Yes, that's exactly what he said in his closing sentence.

Re:Musk is a scam artist (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | about a year and a half ago | (#42028165)

How exactly does reducing the cost of a Tesla by $7500 do any good for the country?
Or is "Fuck You" your actual argument and no further information is needed?

Re:Musk is a scam artist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42026365)

He founded Tesla which has yet to produce a car which is more than an expensive toy that few people can afford.

How is that a scam? Who's forcing you to buy a Tesla?

I being forced to pay for it though taxes in the form of government loans and tax breaks to those that purchase these vehicles.

I don't mind financing research into non-fossil fuel powered vehicles. Tesla, however, is a manufacturer of luxury vehicles. They can pay for their own research.

Re:Musk is a scam artist (1, Offtopic)

Rogerborg (306625) | about a year and a half ago | (#42026269)

It's a scam in the same way that all heavyweight electric vehicles are in the real world. Half a billion dollars of Federal "loans" has produced resource intensive toys with poorer than advertised range and performance, that catch fire, the batteries brick themselves, and even even if everything worked, the majority of the electricity used to charge them is still coming from fossil sources and will continue to do so until well after the extant Teslas are being shoved into landfills.

If they worked, and if we had enough grid capacity to charge them and if a lot (a lot) more electricity came from renewable sources and if those renewable sources weren't themselves a financially and fossil-energy subsidised techno-welfare scam... then they'd be just dandy.

Re:Musk is a scam artist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42027335)

Alot of if's.... Look at any new industry - chicken and egg. Industries were built around solving for the if's. Tesla is pushing the envelope to make something work. Other industries, if they see ROI, will grow around to fill in the gaps and provide jobs and money etc. TAX dollars are merley used as a catalyst to spurn on new industry - just like we did for the airlines, the auto industry, the oil industry etc..
The only difference here is that this investment should be cleaner and greener.

Re:Musk is a scam artist (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42026193)

Frankly, if you are impressed by what Musk has done, that's enough to determine that you have poor analytical skills are are instead swayed by shiny things.

So, an Apple customer?

SpaceX vs. ESA (5, Informative)

nojayuk (567177) | about a year and a half ago | (#42026033)

The Falcon 9 has flown four times IIRC; in two cases things went wrong -- on its first launch the orbital payload ended up rolling and yawing in the wrong orbit and on the fourth launch it lost an engine and couldn't deploy a secondary payload successfully and the mission was not a complete success. The Falcon Heavy is still to be completely assembled never mind actually flown.

The Ariane 5 in ES, GS and ECS configurations has 50 completely successful launches under its belt since the last failure back in 2002. It has a proven track record of delivering twice the payload of the Falcon 9 to LEO and twice the projected payload of the F9 v1.1 to GEO (since SpaceX has not yet attempted a launch to GEO).

Musk's comments sound like FUD to encourage sales of Falcon 9 launches, nothing more.

Re:SpaceX vs. ESA (2, Informative)

queazocotal (915608) | about a year and a half ago | (#42026077)

"and on the fourth launch it lost an engine and couldn't deploy a secondary payload successfully and the mission was not a complete success." - a couple of points.
Firstly, the secondary payload was launched on this basis, with the understanding it was not a guaranteed launch, for a reduced fee.
Secondly, the rocket was actually capable of doing the secondary mission, but was prevented due to NASA rules precluding it.
(The rules were there to eliminate even the theoretical possibility of the relit second stage hitting ISS. They were arguably a bit tough).

Reliability isn't everything.
At some point, if you're a third the cost, even if you lose one vehicle in five, you start getting a lot more business.

Re:SpaceX vs. ESA (5, Insightful)

arse maker (1058608) | about a year and a half ago | (#42026119)

That would almost never be true.
The cost of launch is almost (probably always) a tiny part of the total cost of designing, building and launching something.

The launch might be $80m, but if you lose a $200m payload its not so good.

There is insurance which makes the cost analysis more complex, I'm not sure how that would factor in. However it would have to be far more reliable than 1/5 for 1/3 the cost.

Re:SpaceX vs. ESA (1)

queazocotal (915608) | about a year and a half ago | (#42026209)

If launch costs go down, it becomes more economic to make the spacecraft cheaper.

Re:SpaceX vs. ESA (3, Interesting)

trout007 (975317) | about a year and a half ago | (#42026211)

Insurance can be simplified.

Suppose you want to insure a $200M payload. Assume the insurance company can get a 10% profit. If the launcher is 80% reliable there is a 1 in 5 chance of paying out. So the even cost would be $40 million. Plus a 10% profit = $44 million.
For a 90% reliable = $22 million
For a 95% reliable = $11 million
For a 97.5% reliable = $5.5 million

So a company needs to look at a few things. How much cheaper is the launcher and what losses in income will you have during the delay to build a new satellite. You may be able to insure for those loses as well.

Re:SpaceX vs. ESA (2)

arse maker (1058608) | about a year and a half ago | (#42026301)

On the face of it, yes insurance is easy.

But its more complex. What is being insured? The parts, labor.. design time?
The cost of employing 100 people for another few years while its being rebuilt?
What if you can't launch again because of time, not money?

Re:SpaceX vs. ESA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42028223)

design time is hardly a factor, IMO, once a device is designed a second can be made without spending that again (design is a 'sunk cost' not a marginal one), thus it doesn't need to be insured.

Re:SpaceX vs. ESA (3, Interesting)

khallow (566160) | about a year and a half ago | (#42026801)

The cost of launch is almost (probably always) a tiny part of the total cost of designing, building and launching something.

It's the same "tiny" fraction of the total cost of the payload, roughly 10-20%. The only exceptions are really expensive payloads (say multibillion dollar US DOD/NRO satellties) or really cheap ones (such as test payloads for new launch systems).

So it's reasonable to expect as launch costs go down, new engineered systems, designed to go up on the cheaper launches, will also drop in cost.

Companies price to what the market will bear (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42026223)

"At some point, if you're a third the cost, even if you lose one vehicle in five, you start getting a lot more business."
Companies price their products to what the market will bear, if he could price it at Arianne - 5%, he would. He's having to deep discount and that suggests he's having difficulty attracting customers with so many teething problems.

"Reliability isn't everything"
We use to send mobile phones via registered post in the UK. A lot of them were stolen, our contract meant we received the value of the phone back from their insurance. We lost those customers who didn't re-order, we got a bad reputation and eventually we had enough and ditched Royal Mail. See it only works if you ONLY count the cost of the lost satellite, not the damage it does by the failure to launch as contracted.

SpaceX need to improve their reliability, and get their heavy launcher out the door. Less hype, less fake 'reusable' claims from a rocket that gone only 2 feet off the ground. Less BS attacks on competitors, they need to iron out THEIR problems with THEIR first launcher. Discounting to keep customers is a short term fix only.

As it is, it looks like he's trying to draw attention away from his owns companies problems.

Re:SpaceX vs. ESA (3, Interesting)

arse maker (1058608) | about a year and a half ago | (#42026081)

Falcon 9 is cheaper and has been pretty successful.

If I was running the Ariane program I would be worried. You are betting on the Falcon 9 having failures. Otherwise you cannot compete for a large part of the market.

If the Heavy works, you are out of business. It might be FUD, but it is also true.

Re:SpaceX vs. ESA (4, Insightful)

dkf (304284) | about a year and a half ago | (#42026335)

Falcon 9 is cheaper and has been pretty successful.

But is it because they're good or because they're lucky? You can't tell from Musk's comments; one of his tasks is to pitch as high as possible to bring in investors and persuade customers to jump ship.

If I was running the Ariane program I would be worried. You are betting on the Falcon 9 having failures. Otherwise you cannot compete for a large part of the market.

If the Heavy works, you are out of business. It might be FUD, but it is also true.

Right now, you've got someone talking up a product that hasn't actually entered service yet and you're believing them on the basis of an exceptionally short service history with a different system (the Falcon 9 and Ariane 5 are targeted at different types of payloads; you'd probably be better off comparing with the A5 predecessor). It's FUD and vaporware vs stuff that actually exists. We don't tolerate that when talking about software, so why should we be more lenient about rockets? Arianespace will start worrying once the Falcon Heavy has actually lifted a decent number of loads without incident (remember to compare the sum of the launch costs and the insurance, because the satellite owners will surely do that sum).

Re:SpaceX vs. ESA (1)

arse maker (1058608) | about a year and a half ago | (#42026429)

With the Heavy you are right that it hasn't entered service.
Though none of their products are vaporware. They have delivered.

Its valid logic to say any one launch maybe lucky, however launching something in to space is so complex that doing it once is a pretty strong indicator that you can do it again.

If the Falcon Heavy has one successful launch Arianespace will be really worried. Of course if SpaceX then lose the next 3 it will be a disaster. But I said before.. Arianespace would be counting on them to fail, if SpaceX doesn't then they are out of business.

Re:SpaceX vs. ESA (1)

crazyjj (2598719) | about a year and a half ago | (#42026457)

It's FUD and vaporware vs stuff that actually exists.

Musk may be engaging in FUD, but the Falcon is definitely not vaporware. It's a real rocket that launches real cheap, and has had several real launches delivering real payload.

Re:SpaceX vs. ESA (5, Interesting)

trout007 (975317) | about a year and a half ago | (#42026107)

Look at the Ariane 5 flights before 2002. First flight had to be terminated. Second flight didn't reach intended orbit. Then 7 successes. Then a failure to reach intended orbit. Then 3 successes. Then a flight needed to be terminated. Success since then.

So far in the first 4 flights Falcon 9 has performed better than Ariane 5's first 4 flights. No terminations, one failure to insert in intended orbit and one failure of secondary payload.

This reinforces Musk's point. You get better the more you fly. As long as they keep flying and learning it will get better quickly. Now right now if I had a Billion Dollar payload I'd pay for an Ariane 5, Delta IV, or Atlas V. But if I was planning a $200 million dollar total mission it would be impossible on anything but a Falcon 9.

Re:SpaceX vs. ESA (5, Informative)

nojayuk (567177) | about a year and a half ago | (#42026543)

The market SpaceX is competing in already has the Ariane as well as other commercial/military launchers like the Deltas, the HII-B and of course the venerable Soyuz (1700 launches and counting) which is a closer match to the Falcon 9's capabilities. They're playing catchup with their launch price being the big market attractor while they get the bugs out and improve their throw weight.

What would you be launching and where for 200 mill? A geosync DBS bird costs about 100 million shrinkwrapped for launch with insurance, load integration and launch costs pushing the total price up to about 400 million dollars US after it has been delivered to its final position in the GEO constellation.

Scientific and telecomms platforms can be put into LEO for a lot less, of course but there are a lot more boosters other than the Falcon 9 that can do this job; the Ariane's speciality is DBS launches, two at a time with a side-order of Space Station resupply and reboost ATVs delivering 6 tonnes plus of payload and fuel per shot in a 20-tonne vehicle (the first commercial DragonX resupply mission carried about 500kg of cargo and no fuel).

SpaceX still hasn't attempted even a test GEO launch of a single DBS/GEO payload and is incapable of putting the biggest such satellites in place -- INTELSAT 20 launched by Arianespace in August this year massed about 6 tonnes, a tonne more than the uprated Falcon 9 is expected to be able to put into GEO. The same launch also put a 3-tonne DBS into GEO making the entire launch load over 10 tonnes including ancillary materials, way above anything the Falcon 9 will ever be able to do.

Re:SpaceX vs. ESA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42026221)

The first Ariane 5 launch was a failure and this by a company that had been doing this for years.

Give SpaceX another few years and you will be able to judge their success rate but I definitely would not chock anything Elon says as just FUD. Maybe a warning, a threat or a promise but not FUD. FUD exist only in the minds of SpaceX's competitors. Also, while the Falcons last launch was not a complete success it's understood that it could have been if not for some contractual requirements by NASA that prevented it from doing so.

Re:SpaceX vs. ESA (1)

eulernet (1132389) | about a year and a half ago | (#42026257)

There are also political issues: Ariane is french but also european.

Using american rockets is interesting if you focus only on costs, but it is definitely an error if you intend to develop and improve technology.

It's obvious that europeans will continue to use Ariane, americans will use SpaceX, and russians will use their own system.

Re:SpaceX vs. ESA (1)

crazyjj (2598719) | about a year and a half ago | (#42026485)

russians will use their own system.

Soyuz--which has a much longer and better track record than either. But they're just dirty commies, right, so what do they know?

Re:SpaceX vs. ESA (3, Informative)

SomeKDEUser (1243392) | about a year and a half ago | (#42026789)

you can get soyuz launches from Arianespace. TRhey launch from Kourou, which gives them a higher payload capability than if you bought it directly from the Russians to be launched in Baikonour.

Arianespace clearly knows that things are moving and that a medium launcher which is very cost competitive is a good idea. Soyouz is almost imposible to beat... And they also know about the need for small launchers, which is why they have added Vega to their lineup -- vega development which are also useful for future booster capabilities.

Musk talks about Ariane as though it were the only product from Arianespace. Not so :)

Re:SpaceX vs. ESA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42027663)

GP didn't mention anything bad about the Russians, why all the butthurtsky comrade?

Re:SpaceX vs. ESA (1)

Yoda222 (943886) | about a year and a half ago | (#42027887)

That's a simplified vision of the world. CNES (french agency) use sometimes european launcher, sometimes american, sometimes russian. Some US satellite operators are launching european made satellite from Kazakhstan using a russian launcher operated by the european arianespace (in a joint company with russian) (this specific case is globalstar 2nd generation satellite) Luxemburgish-US operator buy french or us satellite, the satellite can be launched from guyana or florida or baikonour, Nasa send people on russian spacecraft...

Re:SpaceX vs. ESA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42026311)

It's true that Ariane has a proven track record, but it'd be wrong to write off Falcon based on 2 problems in its first (so far only) 4 launches.

The first Falcon mission is classes as a success, because it did make it to orbit. You can expect a few problems on a first launch, as it the first real test that gives them data to work on for the next launches. As you point out the 4th mission was a partial failure, but it did deploy the primary payload successfully.

Ariane 5's first launch was a total failure, and second a partial failure - so if you compare them on the first 4 launches alone Falcon is still in the lead right now. Just.

Ariane didn't have another problem until launch #10, so we'll need to wait a while for more launches before we can really compare the reliability of the two.

Re:SpaceX vs. ESA (1)

Alioth (221270) | about a year and a half ago | (#42026619)

At the same point in Arianne's life (the 4th launch), one Arianne 5 had exploded and not reached orbit, one had partially failed and there had been two successes.

It's too early days to say whether the Falcon will be more or less reliable than Arianne 5 (which now has a proven track record).

Re:SpaceX vs. ESA (2, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | about a year and a half ago | (#42026729)

And when the Falcon 9 has 50 successful launches, what's going to be the argument then? Now is the time for Arianespace to move on this, not when its platform has been rendered firmly obsolete and overpriced for any sort of launch.

Re:SpaceX vs. ESA (2, Flamebait)

nojayuk (567177) | about a year and a half ago | (#42027183)

DBS and other geosync birds are getting bigger and heavier for various reasons -- more propellant so they can stay in their orbit slot longer, more solar cells to drive stronger transmitters, more broadcast channels, more fail-soft backup gear etc.

At the moment the Falcon 9 can (theoretically) put a typical satellite maxing out at about 4 tonnes or so into GEO with the forthcoming V1.1 version increasing that to 5 tonnes. It can't lift the newer birds like INTELSAT 20 weighing over six tonnes as Ariane can (and has done).

Until the paper-exercise Falcon Heavy with its kludgey fuel-transfer-in-flight mode flies SpaceX can't compete with Ariane's proven lift capability. After that... SpaceX only has one customer pencilled in for Heavy and that's Intelsat in 2015. A 50-tonne to LEO lift capability fits few if any commercial niches today; even the Delta 4 Heavy is underused with its 23-tonne to LEO capability.

Of course the Falcon Heavy's main projected use is manned missions to the Moon and Mars but that assumes substantial and sustained funding for such a project in the trillion dollar range at a time when the focus for space exploration is turning more and more to capable robots and cheap expendable probes rather than spam-in-a-can.

Re:SpaceX vs. ESA (2, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | about a year and a half ago | (#42027523)

Until the paper-exercise Falcon Heavy with its kludgey fuel-transfer-in-flight mode flies

I'd call it "brilliant" and "elegant" not "kludgey", but I guess such things are in the eye of the beholder. Just keep in mind that a) it significantly improves the mass fraction of the Falcon 9 Heavy (which rather than the Falcon Heavy, is the true Arianespace 5 competitor) at moderate complexity increase, and b) uses existing components, three copies of the Falcon 9 "core" (the first stage), greatly reducing production costs.

And as for calling it a "paper exercise", they've already demonstrated the rocket engines and launched the basic Falcon 9 core. It's not been tested as a whole, but the components are far from "paper".

Of course the Falcon Heavy's main projected use is manned missions to the Moon and Mars but that assumes substantial and sustained funding for such a project in the trillion dollar range

Cheaper launch vehicle means cheaper missions. And NASA is notorious for making things one to two orders of magnitude more expensive than they need to be. I think once the Falcon Heavy flies, we'll be in funding range of private manned space exploration of both the surface of the Moon and Mars.

Re:SpaceX vs. ESA (2)

nojayuk (567177) | about a year and a half ago | (#42027819)

Transferring fuel and oxidiser sideways between tankage sections under 3-4 gees of thrust and vibration is, as far as I am aware, going to be a first in rocketry. It takes plumbing, pumps, valve gear etc. meaning major changes to the core and strap-on sections which add to the vehicle weight as well as the cost of manufacture since the cores are no longer physically identical. In contrast the Delta 4 Heavy strap-ons are pretty nearly identical to the core; the central engine just runs throttled down so that when the strap-ons separate it has enough propellant left to continue to orbit without the extra parasitic weight of transfer pumps etc. I don't know why this option isn't available to SpaceX; do the Merlin engines have a throttle-down and/or in-flight start capability?

The major cost of a manned Moon or Mars mission isn't the launch vehicles, it's the crew vehicle design and testing and construction. There would be a large number of actual launches to lift everything needed for even a "boots and banners" go-there-and-never-go-back mission; not even Elon thinks he could go to Mars (even one-way) on a single Falcon Heavy stack. That's where the trillion dollars would be spent and saving even 20 million bucks a launch by flying a flock of Falcons wouldn't shave more than 50 billion off that thirteen-digit price ticket in the end.

Re:SpaceX vs. ESA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42027569)

I want the cheaper one, even if it doesn't work as well?

Translated (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42026041)

"Ariane 5 has no chance,"
translates to "Arian 5 is our big competitor"

"Mr Musk said that the cost of producing the current European rocket would kill it as a commercial entity."
Translates as "Give us a subsidy US military or we can't keep competing on price!"

"Not only can we sustain the prices, but the next version of Falcon 9 is actually able to go to a lower price,"
Translates as:
"We hope to get to the stock market before we burn through our $1 billion in capital, Groupon/Facebook style! Ka-chink!"

Sounds like marketing to me. Whenever I see a company focus on dissing a competitor, I immediately wonder why they're going negative campaigning.

Re:Translated (1)

trout007 (975317) | about a year and a half ago | (#42026523)

Sounds like marketing to me. Whenever I see a company focus on dissing a competitor, I immediately wonder why they're going negative campaigning.

Usually it's the upstarts that try to tear down the competition. The market leaders never mention the competition. You rarely see Honda, Toyota, Apple, etc mention the competition. Kia always says how much cheaper they are than Honda. Samsung always pokes fun at Apple for being overpriced.

Re:Translated (1)

yesterdaystomorrow (1766850) | about a year and a half ago | (#42027055)

Whenever I see a company focus on dissing a competitor, I immediately wonder why they're going negative campaigning.

Musk doesn't need to diss Ariane 5: his company is taking business away from them without any negativity. The thing that surprises me here is how positive he is about Ariane 6. Given how rapidly SpaceX is improving their product, I don't see how Arianespace, with its slow expensive processes, could ever get ahead with a new vehicle.

Re:Translated (1)

Ja'Achan (827610) | about a year and a half ago | (#42027103)

"Mr Musk said that the cost of producing the current European rocket would kill it as a commercial entity."
Translates as "Give us a subsidy US military or we can't keep competing on price!"

Fairly sure by "it" he means the Ariane, not SpaceX. I.e. the Ariane is too expensive to be cost-effective.

ONE WORD: SATURN 5B !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42026051)

The king of kings of launch. Everything else is so -- so chinese !!

Re:ONE WORD: SATURN 5B !! (1)

nucrash (549705) | about a year and a half ago | (#42027345)

Energia was actually able to lift a heavier payload. Still, Saturn V was no doubt the most capable rocket the US has ever had.

You fa1l it (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42026065)

Wh3n I Stood for

Cost and Payload (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | about a year and a half ago | (#42026071)

If you don't want to RTFA and Wikipedia it

Launch Cost: $60M
Payload: 13,150 kg to LEO, 4,850 kg to geostationary.

Re:Cost and Payload (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42026163)

Is that the Cost/Payload of Ariane or Falcon? And how does it compare to the other one?
The absolute cost is only interesting if you are going to buy a lift. For competition, it's the relation that counts. It doesn't matter too much if you are expensive as long as your competitors are even more expensive (assuming you are not so expensive that the customers decide not to buy at all).

Re:Cost and Payload (2)

0123456 (636235) | about a year and a half ago | (#42026395)

Is that the Cost/Payload of Ariane or Falcon? And how does it compare to the other one?

Put it this way. Ariane is expensive enough that many people launching billion-dollar satellites would rather put them on a Russian rocket and hope they didn't leave a vodka bottle in the engine when they built it.

There's an old word for this (1)

mrthoughtful (466814) | about a year and a half ago | (#42026139)

Hubris

Yep, it's all fun and games... (1)

Noryungi (70322) | about a year and a half ago | (#42026253)

... Until one of your rockets explode while going up, or even on the launchpad.

Not to belittle SpaceX, but they have had, what? Four successful launches so far? Ariane has had 62 successful launches out of 66.

And don't get me started on Soyuz rockets - the first one flew in 1966 - with 1600+ successful launches to its credit.

Wake me up when SpaceX has had 60+ launches without a hitch. Until then, Musk is just talking P.R. for his firm.

Re:Yep, it's all fun and games... (1)

crazyjj (2598719) | about a year and a half ago | (#42026509)

Musk is just talking P.R. for his firm.

Yeah, you'd almost think that was part of his job or something.

Musk is help ESA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42026289)

By doing this, he is pushing the politicians. Smart man.

FUD (1)

mbone (558574) | about a year and a half ago | (#42026399)

What more needs to be said.

Likely cheaper option for Arianespace (1)

PerMolestiasEruditio (1118269) | about a year and a half ago | (#42026455)

Instead of developing Ariane 6 Arianspace could just buy up 51% of SpaceX after their IPO - then they can mostly do what they want with it.

Re:Likely cheaper option for Arianespace (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42026933)

Musk has always said he wants to keep control of the company and so the IPO will not give up 51% of the total voting shares.

It's all about the payload (1)

j-b0y (449975) | about a year and a half ago | (#42026597)

Ariane 5 is and continues to be a success but the premise on which Ariane 5 was built -- heavy payloads -- is a small and shrinking market segment. Ariane 5 can launch two payloads, but matching payloads -- the right orbital configuration and mass constraints -- is not easy.

Arianespace hedged their bets by bringing this Soyuz launchers over to CSG with a new (ESA-funded) launchpad at Sinnamari. The much smaller Vega rocket is way off in the distance. The reasoning for Ariane 6 (not having to pay the Russians, as far as I can work out) is sound enough, but the politics (money for France for A6 vs money for Germany for revised A5) is getting in the way.

SpaceX want ESA to create & develop the market (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42026893)

SpaceX are only entering marketplaces ESA helped create & develop.
Musk wants ESA to do all the hard work of creating a superheavy lift vehicle and seeing if there is the market demand for its services, then he can enter the market knowing there is the demand.

A Rocket a Day (2)

mbone (558574) | about a year and a half ago | (#42027407)

If we really seriously want to move from the expensive launch vehicle, expensive hardware optimization we are currently in, we probably need to do something like this [fourmilab.ch] .

All your base are belong to us (1)

Ranger (1783) | about a year and a half ago | (#42027463)

You have no chance to survive, Ariane 5, Make your time.

You're forgetting the equator (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42027563)

The closer you launch from the equator, you get a bigger, free boost of energy from the rotation of the earth.

Ariane launches from South America. As a result, the rockets can carry a bigger payload than if they launched from the USA.

Re:You're forgetting the equator (1)

0123456 (636235) | about a year and a half ago | (#42027841)

As a result, the rockets can carry a bigger payload than if they launched from the USA.

A bigger payload is irrelevant if it costs 2x as much per pound launched. And the difference in launch velocity between Florida and French Guiana is probably less than 200 m/s, which saves you a few thousand dollars in fuel.

Self promotion. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42027983)

One thing you have to give credit to Tusk; he's an amazing self promoter.

He talks about these wonderful free market solutions, all the while he runs his Tesla Government Motors on Federal loan money.

His cheapo rocket has had substantial problems in 2 out of the 4 launches. But here he is trying to tell us that Ariane 5 - having 50 of it's last launches go perfect - has "no chance" with his product. And he's saying it with a straight face.

SpaceX will survive if they persuade the politicians to cut NASA budget even more and force NASA to buy from SpaceX. And that is exactly what SpaceX is lobbying for behind closed doors.

Wisdom follows, pay attention! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42028045)

Musk is not trashing ESA tech. What he tried to silently convey is that the US gov't will soon invoke the Monroe Doctrine on equatorial French Guyana, the colonial territory where criminals-turned-mercenaries French Foreign Legionaires terrorize to aboriginal amero-indians "in defence" of the ESA space launch platforms. The political left alleges villages had been torched there. Why? Because aboriginal indians protested there that french rocket industry spews lotsa toxic waste and destroys their natural habitat, the jungle environment.

This cannot continue. Frech Guyana needs to stop being french and must become a free state, that can stay independent or freely join in another country in the Americas for mutual prosperity. European colonial powers finally need to stop oppressing and exploiting the American continents! Europe needs to find another launch spot for its Ariane rockets, maybe a floating platform at the open sea or at least offer equal terms of lease to the aboriginal guyanians, similar to how russians pay big bucks for lease of Baikonur-Tyuratam to Kazakhstan's government. Observe, how the kazakhs banned russian launches when the big Proton rockets started to fail serially, spewing extremely toxic unburnt fuel over the steppe. Kazakhs forced russians to fix their tech before continuing with the lease. Guyanian aboriginals currently have no such power, as the french legionaire mercenaries seal their mouths with rifle butts.

Mr. Musk, please ask Mr. Obama to grant the gift of freedom to the oppressed amero-indians of "French" Guyana! Kick Europe out of the new continents!

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