Thursday, June 18, 2009

Has Arianespace surpassed the U.S.?

"American Exceptionalism" isn't politically correct these days, though not so unpopular as many believe. The old fashioned idea of being ahead of the game in spaceflight may not just be threatened by Russia, China, India or the European Commission. State-subsidized Arianespace, United Space Alliance of the ESA, boasts of being unsurpassed.

As the Russian Federation's Soyuz facility is being completed with impressive speed in French Guiana, now might be a good time for those concerned with a less fashionable aspect of America's confused space ambitions to take note of the language Arianespace uses to describe itself.

Without even mentioning the time when the U.S. made the Space Shuttle an end unto itself, abandoning Saturn boosters, some took an unnatural pleasure when, during the years that followed, Arianespace, while testing the largest booster in production, blew at least two Ariane V rockets to smithereens.

After the Challenger disaster in 1986, NASA lost Department. of Defense and a stacked up manifest of commercial satellite launch customers, never fully recovered.

Today Ariane V regularly launches eight payloads at a crack, and nearly eight times a year. In the press release language below, Arianespace offhandedly casually adds Soyuz to it's own stable of available rockets.

Perhaps their claim is not just rhetorical, just an over-selling point, and the U.S. is not just threatened with being surpassed in space, but already was surpassed by competitors, long ago.

About Arianespace

"Arianespace is the world's leading launch Service & Solutions company, delivering innovative offer to its customers since 1980. Backed by its 23 shareholders and the European Space Agency, Arianespace proposes an unrivalled launcher family, comprising Ariane 5, Soyuz and Vega, and an international workforce renowned for their culture of commitment and excellence. As of 15 June 2009, Arianespace had launched a total of 269 payloads, including more than half of all the commercial satellites now in service worldwide. It has a backlog of 25 Ariane 5 and 10 Soyuz launches, equal to 3 years of business."

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