The warehouse belongs to one of Europe's leading aerospace companies, Airbus, and on June 5, the company unveiled design plans for a reusable Ariane rocket, made by the French-based company Arianespace.
Arianespace is a big competitor of the American company SpaceX, and SpaceX's promise for extremely cheap reusable rockets in the near future has left Arianespace scrambling to find a way to compete when that future day finally comes. Now, it looks like they might have a beacon of hope.
Airbus is calling their reusable rocket design Adeline, which is short for Advanced Expendable Launcher with Innovative engine Economy. And during these last five years, Airbus engineers have been hidden away working on designs to secure the patents they needed to build Adeline, which they say could reduce Arianespace's launch costs by up to 30%.
The company hopes to see their design fly by as early as 2025.
A revolution in spaceflight
Reusable rockets are the next technological landmark in the future of spaceflight — by flying the same rocket multiple times, aerospace companies can save hundreds of millions of dollars.
Right now, each mission to space requires a brand-new rocket. Think about if you had to buy a new car every time you needed to drive somewhere. That would get very expensive very quickly.
Ariane 5 rocketIf you compare the reusable designs from Airbus with those of SpaceX, you might be hard-pressed to find many similarities.
That's because of the way each company aims to retrieve their rockets from space — a feat that has never before been accomplished, despite SpaceX's attempts in January and April of this year.
For example, SpaceX has designed its Falcon 9 rocket to land much like it launches, just in reverse.
A completely different approach
Instead of retrieving the giant body of the rocket — called the first stage — Airbus's design includes a miniature version of the first stage, shown below separating from the main body:By contrast, SpaceX is attempting to retrieve the entire body of its first-stage Falcon 9 rocket. That's because the bottom half of their rockets do not detach like they would in the animation above. See an example of how SpaceX directs their first-stage rockets back to Earth in the animation below: The advantage this tiny rocket has is that it's, at least in theory, easier to retrieve because it's smaller and, therefore, requires less fuel and energy to control upon descent. Test flights, however, are a long way off, since the company has yet to start building Adeline.
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