* Posts by Kharkov

419 publicly visible posts • joined 16 Sep 2011


Happy Artemis Day everybody! NASA preps its monster rocket for testing


Embarrasing Moment Incoming...

Somewhere between now & 2021, NASA is going to have an SLS standing straight & tall on the launch pad, with the public taking notice for the first time (Right now, the average American doesn't know SLS even exists) and you can bet that Elon-who-must-not-be-named will have a Falcon Heavy or even a Starship (What, he couldn't just call it 'Coolname'?) sitting on the launch pad next door, possibly with a sign saying, "This costs less than 150 million dollars and has flown several times." leading to... a rather unfortunate series of comparisons, beginning and ending with, "Why does one cost 10x more than the other?"

And then sit back with the popcorn and watch the fireworks...

Stephen Hawking dies, aged 76


Re: That's a bummer of a way to start a Wednesday

Hmm, do you want to read anything into the fact that 3x14=42?


Re: Vale

True, he didn’t finish the Warp Drive but you know it’ll be renamed the Hawking Drive...

Farewell, you who has slipped the bonds of this surly Earth, and may you brighten the stars with your energy.

He’ll be sadly missed.

Timeout everyone. Y'all know that Musk's $500 'flamethrower' is literally a Boring blowtorch?


Here’s to honesty!

Elon came out & said it, Not essential, overpriced & the only redeeming feature is the cool sticker.

And people bought it.

If I promise envelopes full of nothing in exchange for $5,000 and people ask for & get it, and then complain afterwards, the fault isn’t on me. Neither is Elon to blame.

NASA reconfirms 2019 will see first launch of Space Launch System


It's Apollo 8... minus the people

Really expensive rocket? Check.

Infrequent launch schedule? Check.

No clear mission outlined for it? Check.

So... just a REALLY expensive engineering test that will do no science, nor leave any Moon observers behind, nor improve our understanding of the Moon.

And 2 to 4 years later, they’ll do it again, with people!

After reusing a rocket, SpaceX tries reusing Dragon capsule for ISS resupply


Re: Clean underwear?

If you mention Ben Elton then we all need this...

"The bar-of-soap-seeking pubic hair is a wonder of existence."

Ben Elton, late 80's, in a radioactive suit.


Re: The real question if they are reused capsules

Bid lower? Why? They should keep the bid at the same value, lower their costs through reuse of kit and enjoy the profits.

SpaceX has pioneered reuse and deserve to profit thereby. It's time for others to do the same thing now... or else see SpaceX develop a near-monopoly on the launch market. I'm sure the US would guarantee two or three launches a year at almost any cost just to keep other launch companies afloat but SpaceX is really likely to be the elephant in the room come the 2020's.

Ewe, get a womb! Docs grow baby lambs in shrink-wrap plastic bags


Re: And it's only taken 52 years.

Lois McMaster Bujold, if you please, not JM...

And yes, the first steps towards the uterine replicator have been taken.

Now pay Lois her royalty cheque...

Boeing details 'Deep Space Gateway' for Mars mission staging


SLS again? Sigh...

Best case unit price $500 million, more probable unit price $1 billion plus. And used to... make exploration of the Moon possible... like a staging area is needed to go to the Moon. Apollo 11 & the Halfway Station, anyone?

While the private sector is developing bigger, better, reususable rockets at much lower prices.

SpaceX yoinks $96m GPS launch deal from under ULA's nose


Re: SpaceX Development

Two things. One, Vulcan uses all the fuel in the first stage and then the engines fall out, deploy a parachute and that's what the helicopters catch. The rest goes ka-blooey somewhere.

Two, SpaceX's next-generation rocket? It's I.T.S., a freaking monster rocket lifting 300 tonnes and more, fully reusable, with really short turnaround times. Check wikipedia.

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Wait, we CAN'T overcharge you any more? UNFAIR!

Wow, there's so much to unpack there...

First, SpaceX is already cheaper than ULA, even without re-use. Anyone remember that 60-65 million dollar figure? ULA, on its best day, wasn't even close to that.

Second, SpaceX is already doing first-stage recovery. If, as CEO G. Shotwell has said, there's 75% of the total cost in the first stage then re-use allows... well, the math's been done before, check for yourself. ULA, is only funding Vulcan on a quarter-to-quarter basis and the first flight is... 2019? Possibly slipping to 2020? Quarter to quarter funding isn't exactly showing great faith in their vehicle and...

Third, does anyone think that a behemoth like ULA, hooked on government 'cost-plus' contracts, with a long tradition of 'make it more expensive so we get more revenue and profit' is going to make something that can even compete with SpaceX? A probably more expensive vehicle, with longer turnaround times, entering the market several years after SpaceX...

As I've said before, the Executives & Directors of ULA have no reason to care, they can retire rich or return to Boeing or Lockheed Martin. The ULA workers, on the other hand... I hope they've got alternatives lined up.

NASA spunks $127m on SSL-powered robot to refuel satellites in space


This is a good idea

First of all, if satellites aren't designed to be refueled then there is still a way to get fuel back into their tanks... through the rocket nozzle. Feed a flexible (and controllable) pipe in the back end and push it towards the fuel tank. Tricky but (I think... no, I'm not a rocket scientist) doable, surely.

It helps that the liquids involved aren't cryogenic things like liquid hydrogen or oxygen. Being hypergolic liquids will mean that TWO pipes are needed but still... doable.

The problem (of course) is the cost of getting a refueling satellite up there. If it costs the same as launching a new, upgraded-design satellite then there's not much point. Secondary payloads on SpaceX launchers?

But the continual love for the X-37 is really ridiculous. It (only, as far as I know) launches on an (expensive) Atlas V. And if you've get a satellite that can move around to meet other satellites, why add a layer of complexity by putting it inside an X-37? There's no value-added at all.

Look out, SpaceX et al – China's Long March-5 rocket blasts off


Impressive but...

First of all, kudos China!

Yes, they got their bird away with no problems so well done, China.

But... hasn't the game changed a bit? Today, it's not about infrequent, very expensive launches any more. With SpaceX making history, it's becoming all about reuse & rapid turnaround and, much as China's space program deserves praise for its hard work, there's no sign that they've moved with the (SpaceX) times.

I've arrived on Mars. Argggh, my back!


A never-ending study on how to mess up humans...

While it's useful to know the long-term effects of exposure to zero-g, why hasn't anyone explained why people haven't started using different ways to actually provide some gravity?

Robert Zubrin tells the story (possibly apocryphal, I haven't found any details on-line) of the late 30's, as fighters started to get up into the high atmosphere, the pilots blacked out and planes and pilots were lost. Doctors wanted to study the effects of low oxygen and things continued until the Generals got fed up and called in the engineers who added a small tank of oxygen, a hose and a mask and solved the problem.

NASA has spent huge sums of money on the study of zero-g but surely astronauts on their way to Mars would at least spin their ship to provide some g? Zubrin himself talks about tethers and rotating your people-carrier with a counterweight.

So, problem going to Mars? This is the story of the dog that didn't bark...

Mars satellites show remains of massive tsunamis that ravaged Red Planet


Re: Isn't it time to start thinking in terms of Human Mission Support?

Good surfing though...

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Isn't it time to start thinking in terms of Human Mission Support?

While general Mars surveys and mapping is a worthy goal, given the lead time for Martian probes and rovers, isn't it time to start planning a mission to survey potential landing sites for the first human landing on Mars?

Ideally, the site would have a range of terrain within a reasonable distance, with a range of geology to study. Water would be present, probably underground, but accessible without too much work, and of course an area of flat terrain for an easy landing.

Queen's Speech: Ministers, release the spaceplanes!*


The Tories never miss an opportunity to... miss an opportunity...

Wow, what a missed opportunity. They could have plugged Skylon and gotten a points boost in the polls - Rule of Cool and all that.

Even if you don't think Skylon will make it to fully-realised Spaceplane (I'm a big fan, can you tell?) in 2022, the Tories could have had people talking about their goals in a positive way.

NASA flashes cash at advanced aerospace concepts


I like the Novel Atmospheric Satellite Concept

Long duration, presumably low-cost high-altitude flight over a region to provide "...surveillance capabilities (e.g., NASA’s earth science missions) and communications bandwidth and availability (e.g., for underserved remote areas of the US, emergency communications), at a fraction of the cost of orbital satellite networks."

I think that will be a winner, at first here on Earth, and then later elsewhere in the solar system. A Mars Eye-In-The-Sky, anyone? A Venus (very) High-Altitude long-duration radar mapper?

New solar cell breaks efficiency records, turns 34% of light into 'leccy

Paris Hilton

Science is a filthy tease...

Better efficiency in a lab? Wonderful! Better efficiency to come? Even more wonderful!

So... when do we see this in the stores? When can we throw this kind of solar panel on the roof, disconnect from the grid and be totally green?

{singsong voice} # Science isn't telling you... #

Oh, Science, you are a cruel mistress...

Ex-HP boss Carly Fiorina sacked one week into new job


I bet she was only paid 74% of what any male Cruz VP would have got too...

Seriously, I don't blame Cruz. He was desperate and tried to introduce a game-changer. I'm reminded of Churchill's famous phrase, as he wanted to open a new front in Europe and so 'change the game', 'We intended to land a tiger in Anzio, instead we only beached a whale.'

But what was Fiorina thinking? It's way too early for a VP pick, doing it now was an obvious sign of desperation and Fiorina should have known that. Now she's the woman who...

Got fired from HP for being embarrassingly bad. Lost to Barbara Boxer by a huge margin. Failed to have any impact on the GOP Primaries. Held a VP-slot for a couple of days and produced mass indifference.

Was this ever going to end in anything other than flaming disaster?

Revealed: How NASA saved the Kepler space telescope from suicide


Re: Just Like Home?.

Now, now. One, just one, is funny. Open the door to a planet of them and, well...

Besides, we may find out how he does that amazing thing with his hair, it looks so natural!

SpaceX adds Mars haulage to its price list


Aren't SpaceX missing an opportunity here?

Advertising that they are ready to take stuff to Mars (vicinity? orbit? surface?) is great, kudos SpaceX, but...

The best way to advertise that you can do a thing is to... actually do a thing.

Thus, the best thing SpaceX could do would be to buy a lander (or make one, but getting someone else who has done it before to build it for them would be better), get all the SpaceX employees to throw in some stuff they want to send (Have your family's picture sent to Mars or, symbolically your Mother-in-Law's picture.) and just send it off.

As long as SpaceX remembers to have four cameras transmitting back to Earth, it should work great.

PS Didn't the Arkyd Series 100 asteroid spotter get advertised as having a screen within the camera's line of sight? If memory serves, you could pay to have your picture appear on the screen and then the camera would take a picture of it with one he-double-hockeysticks of a background. Let SpaceX do that!

SpaceX is go for US military GPS sat launch, smashes ULA monopoly


Reassuringly Expensive...

I've got to agree, ULA has long traded on it's (admittedly very good) launch-success record, telling people that to get that level of confidence, they needed to pay top dollar.

The article itself ends with "One wonders why it took so long."

SpaceX has worked hard to change the access-to-orbit paradigm and it's about to pay off for them in a big way. Once upon a time people had to walk in front of cars with red flags. At the time society couldn't imagine doing it any other way but just a short time later, people's perceptions shifted and in a ridiculously short time, the guy with the red flag was out of a job.

ULA, over the next five years, is about to see its order book dry up. 2006-us will be astonished that ULA could go dry that fast. 2026-us will indeed wonder 'why it took so long.'

SpaceX: We'll land on Mars in 2018 (cough, with NASA's help)


Talking about stuff...

Never mind the scientific payload, never mind the instrumentation, never mind going to the Moon first.

The REAL question is (SpaceX fanbois will love this), will there be a big wheel of cheese in the capsule when it lands?

A big piece of cheese in a 'First!' achievement isn't tradition, but by cracky, let's make it one!

NASA prepares to unpack pump-up space podule

Paris Hilton

Re: No window?

Well, I'm sure they can just open the door and stand in the doorway, looking out into space, with a cup of coffee in hand... (Breezy? Ha! You should should see my place up in the hills...)

While I'm sure the thing won't go 'pop' if it's holed, the 'slowly deflate' bit could use a bit more explaining. One atmosphere's pressure inside, small hole, and surely the air is going to find other places to be rather quickly?

Does it have self-sealing ability? Well feel free to say so, El Reg...

And the Paris Hilton icon because, well, who wouldn't want her up there?

Here's a great idea: Let's make a gun that looks like a mobile phone


Re: Excuse me, I have to take this

Yeah, but when people are being killed by texting and driving, you know that there are people studying ways to reduce those numbers. Auto-accidents used to kill a lot more people than today, but people studied the deaths, looked for patterns and then found ways to reduce the death toll.

With guns, there is no serious nation-wide study or tracking of shooting incidents (seriously, the newspapers are the ones doing the best job of tracking it?) and so no pattern analysis and so no steps to reduce the death toll.

Isn't freedom wonderful?

Clear November in your diary: SpaceX teases first Falcon Heavy liftoff


Re: Missed the Kármán Line by 20km

Given his Astronaut wings? Well, yeah, but after putting him in a V2 and firing him off they'd have needed to give him a change of underwear...


Re: still rockets

We'll have a lot infrastructure in orbit (and beyond) lifted there by rocket long before we figure out how to build a space elevator. I love elevators too but it's technology and a political decision-making process & a huge amount of money to be spent before we get a working space elevator.

Quicker to start with rockets...

Fifth time's the charm as SpaceX pops satellite into orbit


Moving the goalposts a bit...

So, launching a rocket? Yawn.

Sending a bird on its way to GEO? So old hat!

Getting (almost) your 1st stage back? Yesterday's news!

Failing to supply a video feed? Proof - PROOF! - that SpaceX are failures at this space launch stuff & we should return to the tried & trusted (and yes, expensive) ULA. After all, THEY'VE never had a video feed cut out while they were recovering one of their 1st stages...

Cocky SpaceX will try another sea landing with next rocket launch


Cooking for REAL men...

"Put a grill in the pad and open a seafood restaurant underneath."

Ah, yes. Kerosene-flavoured king prawns and sea bass, their time has come.

Mine's the one that's... no, not well well-done, no, not super-well-done, no, not burnt-black, no, the INCINERATED one with a kerosene-oxide coating. As the late, great Terry Pratchett mentioned in Pyramids, Fish & Chips, for MEN...

How business is taking the space race to new frontiers


Let's praise both...

First of all, kudos to Blue Origin (Is it wrong that I'm madly tempted to just put their name as BO ? Seriously, did Bezos not think that through?) for launching a sub-orbital rocket, getting it up to just over 100km, getting both the capsule and booster stage back.

It is not an 'In-your-face' to Elon Musk & SpaceX. Taking something up to 100km and then bringing it down again safely is easier (easier as in 'relatively easier', I'm sure you or I couldn't do it) than getting a 1st stage that's sent something on its way to orbit back to the ground for an easy landing.

Remember, it's not the distance of the Wright Brother's first flight that impresses us these days. In fact, the distance wasn't much, the design was flawed and the pilot skill was pretty low... but... it pointed, very clearly, at the future which very quickly thereafter.

Reusable rockets and getting your first stage back, like the first flight at Kitty Hawk, are important because they show us the future of commercial rocketry.

And let's hope that future will come as fast, and develop as quickly, as powered flight did.

LHC records biggest bang ever with 1 Peta-electron-volt jolt


Be careful with your subheadings...

Titles like "...fail to suck Earth into black hole..." are likely to be read by politicians, you know.

Funding Politician: So I see here the LHC failed to... something or other, I can't read that much in a day. Anyway, failure is grounds for cutting budget.

Scientist: Err, I think you'll find that we didn't do a bad thing...

FP: 'Failure' is the only way important word anyway. Now go & succeed at it or else.

Scientist: Damn you, El Reg...!

Feeble Phobos flaking as it falls to Mars

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@ Your alien overlord - fear me

Thanks to you, I now have the (wonderful, take an upvote, sir) mental image of the first colonist stepping foot on Mars, falling to his/her knees and howling to the sky, "Dooooomed! We're all doooomed!"... Well you can see it, can't you?

Worse is the news that Phobos isn't even (mostly) solid rock. There goes our orbital spacestation/zero-g manufacturing center...

US military readies drone submarine hunter


And what about Somalian Pirates?

Unmanned ship, filled with expensive goodies... meets small fishing boat, with three guys as supercargo. They board, one with programming knowledge, one with hardware knowledge and, as the saying goes, another one, probably with a gun, to keep an eye on these two dangerous intellectuals.

Hacking remotely (don't use 'pASSword' as your password guys, that's too easy, put 'passWORD', much safer...) is always possible of course, but if you know what you're doing, and you have uninterrupted physical access to the beast, then hacking becomes somewhat simpler.

And the next round in this cycle is for an opposing nation (O.N.) to have a small submersible drone follow the good-guy-drone (G.G.D.) and... pump out lots of noise. I recommend the 1812 Overture.

Yes, I know I created two acronyms and didn't use them again, I just like making acronyms...

Don't Panic: Even if asteroid showers cause mass extinctions ...


Tick, Tock, Clarice...

First, the obligatory comment...

Large rocks from space delivered to your front door are nature's way of asking, "How's that Space Program coming along?"

And a bit more seriously...

I'd say that we have the technology to get a colony of people off this planet already. The reason we haven't done it yet is we haven't prioritised it highly enough. Christopher Columbus didn't have to research a better ship, or better food-storage methods, he went with what was at hand (both bits of tech, the ships and food-storage, had been around for a while) and the discovery happened because someone... decided to go.

Governments aren't likely to get this done anytime soon but once SpaceX is back on track, and my personal favourite, Skylon, is in service (six years away and counting down...) I think the Private sector will likely get it done.

And the more people/infrastructure we have in space, the more likely we'll be to spot the next rock due to bump into Earth and stop it.

China, for one, welcomes our ROBOT SPACE ANT overlords


Let's not forget, Slowly, slowly, with China...

Nice article but let's not rush to cheer with the 100-tonne-plus-to-LEO beast, the proposed Long March 9, just yet.

I'd say that the boys over here in China will have their hands full getting the new generation of rockets, the Long Marches 5 (heavy-lift, up to 25 tonnes to LEO), 6 (designed for sun-synchronous operations) & 7 (medium-lift, intended to match the Falcon 9 in payload-to-orbit) into service, and phasing out the older generation of rockets.

So, let's wait four or five years while that gets done and the argument that a really-expensive heavy-lifter is needed, plus the probably several years of development before it enters service.

Big dreams, yes, but slow & steady is the lesson...

Forget Ben Affleck – US, Euro boffins to SMASH spaceship into asteroid


Re: if we're talking film influences

I always thought that Meteor, with the great Sean Connery, was a bit of a strange film. Why have rockets with big, and long, fuel tanks to fire down into Earth's gravity well? A much smaller solid-fuel rocket to kick it out of orbit, with probably liquid-fuel attitude control rockets to tweak its descent would have been all that was needed.

Even worse, to get all those rockets up there in the first place suggests a monster launch capability by the USSR & USA so why not launch from...

Sorry, old movies involving technology, I can't stop myself from nitpicking them. Repeat ten times, we follow the rule of cool and Hollywood Physics is all the reality we need, people.


Re: 5 years?!! And won't someone please think of the... fonts.

And don't forget the whole Times New Roman vs Ariel interdepartmental war that is, at this point in history, pretty much mandated.

Bureaucracy, considering itself more important than the project (whatever the project is) since... bureaucracy was invented!

On a more useful note, this experiment could be followed up by a (probably very small) 'pusher' module - think solar panels, batteries/capacitors & an ion drive - and see if, over time, it can a) have a greater effect on the target, and b) control or at least influence the direction of the target.

Slow but continuous acceleration is probably the way to get humans to the Outer system so the follow-up will have a double purpose...

US military personnel investigated for splashing $96,576 on strippers


And the first step towards Idiocracy has been taken...

Wow, there's a significant number of soldiers who think it's ok to get lap dances and probably... additional services (ahem!)... but there's no reason to have a large and very public debate about Military funding and waste in the U.S.

Nope, none at all...

China launches 'pollution-free' rocket


A Rocket in every factory...

Now I have an image in my head of a Long-March 6 in every Beijing factory. A couple of thousand factories, all powered by an LM-6 in every yard. And every couple of weeks, a rocket pops free of its mountings...

How green is your ROCKET FUEL?


Re: "We banged our way to the moon"

"...near perfect green fuel..."

Ah, no, not really. Yes, hydrogen burned with oxygen gives us clean, green water vapour, yes but...

Making hydrogen for fuel is, sadly, a very ungreen process, with lots of CO2 released into the atmosphere during the manufacturing stage.

And a smaller issue is, if someone spills kerosene all over you, you just need to a: change your clothes and have a shower (quickly!) and b: stay away from sparks, fires and whatnot. If someone spills (spill, as in, pour a liquid) hydrogen over you, it's fair to say that they've ruined your whole day.

So it's a fuel that's green to make as well as use...


Hmm... A new name...

Well, how about 'Up-Goer Juice'? No, even better, how about 'Bang-Bang Water'? Or, best of all, 'Super-Green, Extra-mean Go-Go Liquid'?

Yes, I have been watching Idiocracy, how could you tell?

China eyes the dark, sorry, far side of the Moon


Here comes the new space race...

The U.S. is pretty relaxed about space right now and why not? They have more, and better launchers, than most other countries but what's this? Someone else pushing out further than the U.S.?

Start measuring dicks... er... I mean building rockets! says the U.S.. They'll start up the space race again just to one-up the Chinese...

A bit sad, really, but hey, as long as it gets us out there...

Oh, and go China! The more, the merrier, says I.

Jeff Bezos trousers $8m Florida rocket sweetener package


Re: Pedant incoming...

Well yes, but as such a big one, it was worth classifying it as a plural...


It could be a star investment or a real lemon...

So Florida's throwing money around in the hopes of getting, and keeping, Blue Origin in-state. Well, if it works, and B.O. (seriously, did no-one think of a better name?) carves out a significant place for itself in the launch market then Florida will deserve kudos for their wisdom...

And if B.O. fails to compete with already-operating SpaceX (not operating for the next three months though), fails to get market share against the soon-to-enter-service Skylon (five to six years away, remember), and/or fails to outperform ULA's new Vulcan rocket (ULA is not exactly shouting it from the rooftops, are they?) then Florida will have more than a little egg on its face.

Which way will it go, which way will it go...?

Falcon 9 fireworks display grounds SpaceX


Problems that affect the 1st stage as well...

Remember, SpaceX tries, as much as possible, to have the same stuff - tankage, piping, pumps, control systems, wiring etc - in the 2nd stage as can be found in the 1st stage (and vice versa). It means everyone is familiar with all (or more) of the systems in the rocket, and more people can spot a potential oopsie in the making.

So those helium bottles will be found in the 1st stage tanks too...

It's a shame that the Falcon 9 (and Falcon Heavy) will be grounded for a while but, hey, better safe than sorry...

Rosetta probe spots Comet 67P being buzzed by boulder


It's dumping trash...

It's dumping trash which, as all Star Wars fans know, means it's about to enter hyperspace.

But we should get a good shot of the Millennium Falcon before then...

NASA dismisses asteroid apocalypse threat


I'm not worried...

I've got my sub-etha device ready to 'thumb' a lift.

Antiques in spaaaaace! Retired space shuttles cannibalised for parts


NASA should run for President?

Ok, I can see the problem with that right away.

NASA is a reality-based organization and U.S. politics right now... isn't.

Bernie Sanders, currently leaping up the polls, wants to do something breathtakingly sensible like taxing high-frequency transactions (not enough to make them loss-making, or even to significantly affect their profitability) to pay for free college and he's regarded by the mainstream as a loon.

On the Republican side, the Donald is seriously proposing the idea that the 14th Amendment (if you're born in the U.S., you're a citizen. No 'and's, 'if's or 'but's, this means you!) DOESN'T apply to people of the wrong colour - Sorry, didn't mean to type that, I meant, of course, if their parents had entered the country illegally - and, as far as I can tell, all but two of the other Republican candidates have said, "Great idea! Let's do that."

The crazy man in a sane world would entertain, and undoubtedly be entertained by, the sane people but the sane man in a crazy world would be in a nightmare and, what's worse, nobody would notice because they'd ALL be in the same boat.

EU clears UK to give £50m to SABRE space launcher engine

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Just wait until the complaints start...

While it's great that the EU has cleared the way for money to flow, bear in mind that the EU Space Agency has green-lit the development of the Ariane 6 launcher (A6), which is intended to be better, faster, cheaper against the current Falcon 9 from SpaceX.

As is the case with most bureaucracies, A6, when it arrives, will find itself at a considerable disadvantage against a 1st-stage-reusable Falcon 9 ($30-40 million per launch?) and ridiculously expensive when compared to Skylon ($10 million per launch) when it enters service. Thus, when Skylon moves more to the center of attention (it's remarkably low-key for a launcher given that the two boilerplate testbeds are less than 5 years away from flying) we can all expect the EU aerospace industries (yes, France, I'm looking at you) to put pressure on the EU Space Agency to start throwing up roadblocks to stop Skylon. After all, they stand to make quite a profit from the use of A6 and a reusable, cheap launcher would wreck those plans...