[DE] HINWEIS: Ich empfehle Euch dringend dem charmanten -Teammitglied Altaira zu folgen aufgrund der kommenden Ruhephase auf diesem Kanal! Sie übernimmt die Team-Hauptaktivitäten inklusive des nächsten Fluges zur !

Hier im Blog wird Altaira weiterhin als Gastbloggerin aktiv sein und auch weiterhin über die Mission vom MoonDotVillage-Lander 1 und viele weitere Aktivitäten berichten.

Viel Glück, Altaira! 🚀

[ENG] ANNOUNCEMENT: Due to my upcoming inactivity on this channel I recommend you to follow our charming team member Altaira! She will take over main activities of the team including an upcoming mission to !

Altaira will continue to report here in this blog as guest blogger. She will inform you about the mission of MoonDotVillage Lander and many other interesting activities.

All the best, Altaira! 🚀


Ariane 6 – die europäische Antwort auf die Falcon 9 von SpaceX?

Mein Chef gibt seine persönliche Einschätzung der Chancen der neuen ESA-Trägerrakete Ariane 6 ab!

Dr. Rocket

Vorwort: In den letzten Monaten hatte ich die Ehre verschiedene Raumfahrtstandorte wichtig für die Produktion für Ariane-5- und Ariane-6 Trägerraketen besuchen zu dürfen. Dabei habe ich in zahlreichen Gesprächen mit verschiedenen Experten Einsicht in Produktionsabläufe und auch strategische Planung der europäischen Launcherindustrie gewinnen können. Basierend auf diesen Erkenntnissen konnte ich wie ich denke eine wohlinformierte Meinung zur Problematik der Launcher entwickeln. Im folgenden habe ich diese einmal aufgeschrieben und hoffe damit auch eine Diskussion anregen zu können.  

38583830575_3f0f7215e6_z Falcon Heavy auf dem Launchpad 39A im Kennedy Space Center. Gespannt fiebern wir dem ersten Start entgegen.

Kaum etwas ist im Moment in der Raumfahrtszene so populär wie die Starts der Falcon-9-Rakete von SpaceX – hauptsächlich auch wegen der spektakulären Landungen der Erststufe. Und der Hype wächst im Moment umso mehr da in diesen Tagen die Falcon-Heavy-Rakete zum ersten Mal starten soll – nach jahrelangen Verzögerungen (Dezember 2012 war der ursprünglich erstmals genannte…

Ursprünglichen Post anzeigen 2.800 weitere Wörter

A visitor from Arizona, a forrest of mini launchers and a suborbital ride

We had a special visitor these days: Perry the @STEMFalcon had arrived from Arizona for some fun actions. Enjoy our adventures shown in this Twitter moment below (in some chaotic order for reasons unknown). For the full fun please follow the link to the Twitter moment at the end of this article. Thanks.

Looking behind the scenes of ArianeGroup in Les Mureaux (Part 3)

Link to German Version/Deutschsprachige Version

The third highlight during our fantastic visit  of ArianeGroup Les Mureaux on November 21 after visiting the main assembly hall of the main stage of the ESA launcher Ariane 5 and the SYLDA double launch structure was to have a look into the future. The new ESA launcher Ariane 6 was introduced to us by engineers and managers actually working on the Ariane 6 launcher project. As you can imagine this was a fabulous event for me because I am known as the biggest (but small in size) fan of the Ariane 6 launcher.


This is a super cool Ariane 6 model that I found while visiting ESA Space Transportation at ESA HQ in Paris. In Les Mureaux we did not see any Ariane 6 model for some reason unknown.


In the future the main stage of the Ariane 6 launcher will be assembled here in Les Mureaux as well. For this purpose a new assembly complex is been build in Les Mureaux just next to the assembly hall for the Ariane 5 main stage. We were allowed to take a look at the construction site of the Ariane 6 assembly hall. As you can see this hall is not as high as the one for the Ariane 5 main stage. That has a good reason: The main stage of the Ariane 6 will be assembled horizontally in comparison to the vertical assembly of the Ariane 5 main stage. Horizontal assembly has several advantages:

  • All works are performed at the same level. This enables better cooperation between all engineers and technicians involved.
  • Experiences from serial production of Airbus aircrafts can be used for the assembly of the Ariane 6 main stage.
  • As the Ariane 6 main stage assembly hall has a relatively low ceiling climatization is way easier and comes to lower costs in comparision to the Ariane 5 main stage assembly hall.



The construction site for the assembly complex for the main stage  of Ariane 6 in Les Mureaux. The assembly of the first Ariane 6 main stages is planned to start within a few months.


Next was to learn more about Ariane 6 during a presentation about Ariane 6 and the current status of the development of this launcher. The two different versions of Ariane 6 – the A62 version with two Solid Rocket Motors (SRM) for medium sized payloads – and the big A64 version with four SRMs for heavy payloads – were introduced to us in quite some detail. The two versions of Ariane 6 will enable to launch a wider range of payloads in comparison to Ariane 5.

In the following you can have a look at some of the slides of the presentation given to us:


The two versions of Ariane 6 can be launched up to 12 times per year.


The medium A62 variant of Ariane 6 with two Solid Rocket Motors (SRMs) can transport at least 4.5 metric tons of payload to GTO (Geostationary Transfer Orbit). The heavy A64 version with four SRMs will be able to lift at least 12 metric tons to GTO. This beats the payload capacity of the current Ariane 5.



Ariane 6 will be able to launch very different payloads. This will be enabled by the two versions of Ariane 6, the SYLDA double launch unit, two versions of the payload fairing and several dispenser systems to launch satellites for big constellations.


Several innovative methods for production, assembly and testing of Ariane 6 components will yield to lower the costs for launching with Ariane 6 in comparison to launching with Ariane 5 significantly.


These are the slides showing the current status of the development of Ariane 6. Ariane 6 has started to become real:

The first main engine Vulcain 2.1 (a cost optimized and upgraded version of the current Ariane 5 main engine Vulcain 2) is planned to be test fired for the first time later this year at the test site in Lampoldshausen, Germany.

The Vinci engine for the Ariane 6 upper stage has been tested already for several years. For a small 3D printed engine tests have started.


The first test unit of the Solid Rocket Motors has been assembled. A first test firing is planned for April 2018 in Kourou.


The launch preparations for the new Ariane 6 launcher at the European spaceport in Kourou were explained to us as well:


Main and upper stage of Ariane 6 will be processed and transported horizontally in Kourou. They will be erected at the launch pad.  Solid Rocket Motors and the fairing including payload will be installed at the launch pad with help of the facilities of the Mobile Gantry.


Finally we had the pleasure to view a demonstration of the 3D program used for designing Ariane 6. During this part of the event details of the functions of the different Ariane 6 elements were explained to us. Here are some impressions from this presentation:


A Solid Rocket Motor for an Ariane 6 as seen in the 3D design program. The image is not blurred. You need 3D glasses for enjoying the 3D effect.


The lower section of an Ariane 6 A62 with two SRMs as seen in the 3D design program.


The SYLDA double launch unit will also be used for Ariane 6. A new long version of the SYLDA will allow to launch two big satellites of the same size.


The final part of our visit of ArianeGroup in Les Mureaux was a great Q&A session with four experts and engineers. We were allowed to ask any question related to Ariane 6. Obviously I had several questions by myself. Additionally I had collected interesting questions from some friends on Twitter and Facebook. All our questions were answered. Many thanks go to the experts: Michaela, Mathieu Chaize, Simon Debeugny and Guillaume Collange.


These four Ariane 6 experts of ArianeGroup were answering our questions during a fantastic Q&A session.


After this great Q&A session our fantastic visit of ArianeGoup in Les Mureaux was coming to an end.  Many thanks to all involved! It was a great day in Les Mureaux. It was a great honour to be invited to this event. It was mindblowing to be allowed to take pictures and videos of almost all the very interesting things at the site.  Many thanks ArianeGroup! Merci beaucoup!

And we hope to be allowed to return to Les Mureaux next year when the production and assembly of the first Ariane 6 main stages has begun. We would love to report about these historic events to come!


Yours truly,



P.S.: Some interesting info from the Q&A session with the ArianeGroup staff I would like to add:

  • The payload for the inaugural launch of Ariane 6 in the summer of 2020 is not fixed yet. ArianeGroup is talking to several interested potential customers. A decision will be made before the next design review in June 2018. The second launch at the end of 2020 or early 2021 will carry Galileo navigation satellites.
  • The thermal insulation of the Ariane 6 main stage will be sprayed foam. The colour of the foam is expected to be white. This is quite different from the segmented insulation blankets that are glued to the Ariane 5 core stage.


Part I: Visiting the huge assembly hall for the Ariane 5 main stage



Part II: The double launch unit SYLDA


Looking behind the scences of the ArianeGroup in Les Mureaux (part 2)

Link to German version/Deutschsprachige Version

After having the great pleasure of visiting the main assembly hall for the central stage of the ESA launcher Ariane 5 in Les Mureaux another highlight of the visit was following. We were permitted to see how the cool double launch systems for the Ariane 5 – called SYLDA – are assembled.



We were able to have a look at three SYLDA structures in different assembly stages. As you can see these are available in different sizes. This allows to optimize the SYLDAs for the real sizes of the satellites.


The name SYLDA is a great one for sure. It also has a meaning: it is the acronym for „SYstème de Lancement Double Ariane„. That is French for „double launch system for Ariane“. This system is very important for the commercial success of the Ariane 5 launchers as it enables to launch two communication satellites with a single Ariane 5 launch. Thus, launch costs can be shared between the owners of the two satellites.



Model of  an Ariane 5 launcher. The black SYLDA structure can be spotted inside the cutted payload fairing.


During the launch of two satellites one is encapsuled inside the SYLDA and the second sits on top of it. The satellite at the top is the first one to be released after the Ariane 5 upper stage has reach the desired orbit. The next step is to separate the entire cylindrical part of the SYLDA. The mechanical separation is done via small explosives. Then several springs are pushing the entire cylindrical part of the SYLDA away. For this all the springs have to be pre-loaded very carefully to avoid that the SYLDA cylinder contacts the satellite inside during the push. Often there are only 10 centimeters space between the inner SYLDA wall and the encapsuled satellite. Nevertheless, there was never a problem with the SYLDA system so far. And the engineers continue to work hard to keep it that way. Fingers crossed!



Here we have the smallest SYLDA unit (shown to us).


The SYLDA units are available in different sizes. This allows to adopt the SYLDAs to the actual sizes of the satellites to be launched.



These are segments for the conical part of SYLDA. They made of light-weight carbon composite material.



Here we have a carbon fiber based segment for the cylindrical part of a SYLDA structure.


When the SYLDA was designed it was important that the structure is stiff enough to survive the loads during launch and has low weight at the same time as the mass of the SYLDA is directly reducing the available payload mass. Therefore the SYLDA is mainly made of carbon fiber composite material. Segments of this material are glewed together to form the SYLDA structure.



Oops, we have a hole in this SYLDA. It is made by purpose and is called „man hole“. This hole allows that technicians can have access to the satellite encapsuled inside. It can be closed by a cap.


As already stated SYLDA allows to launch two relatively big communication satellites by a single Ariane 5 launch. But there are smaller satellites for constellations where it makes sense to launch more than two satellites at the same time. One of these constellations is the European Galileo navigation satellite network.   Thus, last year in November four Galileo satellites were launched with a single Ariane 5 ES. A system different from the SYLDA one is needed for that kind of launch. A dispenser system was developed for that – also build by ArianeGroup in Les Mureaux. We had the pleasure to see such a dispenser system for four Galileo satellites (these satellites are build by the German company OHB in Bremen).



This is a Galileo dispenser. Four European Galileo navigation satellites will be connected to it for a launch with an Ariane 5 next summer. Two satellites at one time will be released after reaching the desired orbit.


The Galileo dispenser seen is planned to be used for a launch during the summer of 2018. Now after this meeting we are really looking forward to see this launch. This launch may even be more exciting as it might be the 100th Ariane 5 launch based on the current planning. Yeah!

And that is all for today! Many thanks.

Yours truly,



Part I: Visiting the assembly hall for the Ariane 5 main stage




Part III: News about my favourite ESA launcher Ariane 6 



Looking behind the scences of the ArianeGroup in Les Mureaux (Part 1)



In front of the huge assembly building in Les Mureaux. The upper part of a transport canister for the Ariane 5 main stage can be seen to the right.


Link to German version/Deutschsprachige Version

We had the great pleasure to visit the ArianeGroup facility in Les Mureaux in France. We were extremely lucky to be one of the very few Social Media reporters selected for this extraordinary event.



The tour through the huge main assembly hall is about to begin for us few lucky ones. By the way, most of the selected ones were YouTubers.


We (my boss SpaceHolgar was joining to give some support) were starting our journey to Paris with high hopes and a thrill of anticipation. We were leaving our hotel in the morning to be transported by bus directly to the facilities of ArianeGroup in the town Les Mureaux. Immediately after a nice introduction about ArianeGroup and the site itself  the tour of the facilities begun.


A transparent model of Ariane 5 was used to explain how the different stages of this launcher are working. By the way, you can see my friend  Julio Aprea from ESA Space Transportation to the right. We had the pleasure to visit him at ESA headquarters in Paris the day before.


And we were starting our tour with visiting the huge main assembly hall where the big main stage of the very reliable and commercially successful ESA launcher Ariane 5 is assembled. After some introduction this impressive video was shown to us:


After watching the video we had the pleasure to enter the observation deck with a direct overview look into the assembly hall. We were able to spot three Ariane 5 main stages in different phases of assembly. As you can see in the images (surprisingly we were allowed to take pics of almost everything – a premiere at this site to my knowledge) Ariane 5 main stages are assembled vertically. As the main stages are about 30 meters tall (with a diameter of 5.4 meters) the assembly hall needs to be even taller. This yields to quite a challenge for the air conditioning of the entire hall making it complicated and leading to some remarkable costs – as we were told.



A view from the observation deck just into the main assembly hall of ArianeGroup in Les Mureaux. How many Ariane 5 main stages can you spot?



One of the three Ariane 5 main stages in the assembly hall. You can seen the different levels for working.


To be allowed to get a view into the main assembly hall from the observation deck was already great. But it was getting better and better: We were allowed to enter the main assembly hall directly! Woohoo! What a fantastic surprise!



Wir were getting some instructions from an ArianeGroup manager before being allowed to enter the main assembly hall.



An Ariane 5 „Forward Skirt“. It will be connected to the top of the tank section of an Ariane 5 main stage. It looks very familiar to me.  I think I have seen one somewhere else already!


The first Ariane 5 component I was spotting in the main assembly hall I had seen before at a different site. It was a so called Forward Skirt for an Ariane 5 main stage. It will be mounted at the top of the tank section of the main stage and has  the forward connection points for the Solid Rocket Motors. Inside of the skirt most of the avionics – the brain of the launcher – is installed. And now I remmber where I have spotted a forward skirt like this one already: during visiting my friends of the German company MT Aerospace in Augsburg some months ago. In Augsburg several important components for the Ariane 5 launcher like tank domes for the main and upper stages and the steel segments for the Solid Rocket Motors are being built.



The Thrust Structure for an Ariane 5 main stage. It will be mounted below the tank section of the main stage and support the Vulcain 2 main engine (not mounted yet).


Many other components for the Ariane 5 main stage are being produced in different European countries and then delivered to ArianeGroup in Les Mureaux for assembly. One of these components is the Thrust Structure which is being produced in the Netherlands.  Here in Les Mureaux it is mounted below the tank section of the main stage. Its main purpose is to transfer the forces of thrust from the Vulcain 2 main engine to the main structure of the stage. Additionally, the lower connection points for the SRMs are located at the Thrust Structure.



How cool is this !? We were allowed to enter the huge main assembly hall for Ariane 5 central stages in Les Mureaux.




My emotional highlight of the visit in Les Mureaux: Who had the honour to stand directly below a gigantic Ariane 5 main stage.  I had that honour now! Woohoo!


The Vulcain 2 main engine is being mounted directly below the Thrust Structure. And we had the pleasure to have a look at one of these engines with all the details (no photos here obsviously).



You can spot a mounted Vulcain 2 engine installed at the stage at the left side. It is covered in a purple protective cover.  We were even allowed to take a very close look at this great engine.


Wide angle video view of the assembly hall for the Ariane 5 main stage:


The two tanks of the Ariane 5 main stage (one for super cooled liquid hydrogen with a temperature of -254 deg Celsius and one for cooled liquid oxygen of -183 deg Celsius) reach the main hall already in assembled state. The thermal insulation is added to the walls of the tanks in the main hall. It consists of light grey insulation sheets that are glued to the surface of the tanks. Their main purpose is to avoid that ice is forming at the walls of the tanks during the fueling process. Without insulation the walls would get that cold that a thick layer of water ice would form from the humidity in the air. The ice would pose a risk during early phases of launch. Therefore the formation of ice has to be avoided.



The transport vehicle for the huge Ariane 5 main stage. The container is open ready for taking a main stage inside.


In Les Mureaux the Ariane 5 main stages are prepared to be almost ready for launch. The are shipped in big and very special containers for transportation via the river Seine and the Atlantic Ocean to reach the European spaceport in Kourou in the North of South America.



An entire container for the transport of an Ariane 5 main stage. The main stages are transported in these containers to the launch site Kourou via the river Seine and the Atlantic Ocean.


Visiting the main assembly hall for the Ariane 5 main stage was a really fascinating highlight of visiting Les Mureaux. But that was not all. We had the pleasure to see how double launch structures called SYLDA are manufactured and learned a lot about the future European launcher Ariane 6. I will tell you more stunning facts about this in the next parts of my report of this great visit in Les Mureaux soon. Thank you.

Yours truly,



Part II: The SYLDA double launch structure 



Part III: News about my favourite ESA launcher Ariane 6 


Wir besuchen die ArianeGroup im französischen Les Mureaux (Teil 3)

Nachdem uns am 21. November beim Besuch der ArianeGroup in Les Mureaux die Gegenwart mit der Montage der riesigen Ariane-5-Hauptstufe und der SYLDA-Doppelstartstruktur präsentiert wurde haben wir natürlich auch einen Blick in die nahe Zukunft der europäischen Trägerraketen werden dürfen. Uns wurde die Ariane-6-Rakete ausführlichst vorgestellt. Das war für mich als größten Ariane-6-Fan der Welt natürlich etwas ganz Außergewöhnliches!


Ein superchickes Ariane-6-Modell. Dies habe ich allerdings nicht bei der ArianeGroup in Les Mureaux gefunden, sondern bei ESA Space Transportation in Paris.


Auch für die Ariane-6 wird die Hauptstufe in Les Mureaux zusammengesetzt werden. Dafür baut man dort einen neuen Hallenkomplex ganz in der Nähe der Halle für den Zusammenbau der Ariane-5-Hauptstufe. Wir durften uns die Baustelle natürlich anschauen. Wie man sieht ist die Halle für die Ariane-6 viel niedriger als die Halle für die Ariane-5.  Das hat einen einfachen Grund: Die Hauptstufe der Ariane-6 wird im Liegen zusammengebaut werden. Das hat mehrere Vorteile:

  • Da alle Arbeiten auf einer Ebene stattfinden werden wird die Zusammenarbeit der Mitarbeiter erleichtert.
  • Man kann besser von Erfahrungen der Serienproduktion von Airbus-Flugzeugen profitieren.
  • Da die Halle deutlich niedriger ist als die für die Ariane-5 wird das Klimatisieren einfacher und auch kostengünstiger ausfallen können.



Die Baustelle für den Hallenkomplex zum Zusammenbau der Ariane-6-Hauptstufe. In wenigen Monaten soll hier die Produktion beginnen.


Anschließend durften wir dann einen interessanten Vortrag zum Status der Ariane-6 lauschen. Die zwei Varianten der Ariane-6 wurden uns vorgestellt. Durch das Vorhandensein der kleineren Version mit nur 2 Feststoffboostern und der schweren Version mit 4 Feststoffboostern kann mit der Ariane-6 eine weite Palette von Nutzlasten gestartet werden.

Im folgenden seht Ihr die wichtigsten Folien der Präsentation:


Die Ariane-6 in ihren 2 Varianten soll bis zu 12 Mal im Jahr starten können.


Die kleinere Variante der Ariane-6 mit 2 Boostern kann mindestens 4.5 Tonnen Nutzlast in den typischen geostationären Transferorbit bringen. Die große Ariane-6 kann mit mindestens 12 Tonnen deutlich mehr Nutzlast in den selben Orbit bringen. Dies ist mehr als die entsprechende Nutzlast der Ariane 5.


Die Ariane-6 wird verschiedenste Nutzlasten ins All transportieren können. Zwei verschieden lange Nutzlastverkleidungen, der Einsatz der SYLDA-Dopplestarteinheit und diverser Dispensersysteme wird die umfangreiche Vielseitigkeit der Ariane-6 mit ermöglichen.


Diverse innovative Methoden bei der Produktion und dem Testen von Komponenten der Ariane-6 werden zur Kostensenkung im Vergleich zur Ariane-5 führen.


Anschließend wurde uns der gegenwärtige Status bei den Vorbereitungen  der Produktion der Ariane-6 ausführlich erläutert:


Das erste Vulcain-2.1-Haupttriebwerk (eine neue kostengünstige Version des Vulcain-2-Treibwerkes welches bei der Ariane-5 eingesetzt wird) soll noch in diesem Jahr in Lampoldshausen getestet werden.


Das Vinci-Triebwerk der Ariane-6-Oberstufen wird schon seit einiger Zeit getestet. Für ein 3D-gedrucktes kleineres Triebwerk haben erste Tests begonnen.


Die Herstellung erster Testeinheiten der Feststoffbooster ist im Gange. Eine erste Testzündung eines Boosters soll im April 2018 in Kourou vorgesehen.


Die Operationen zum Vorbereiten des Ariane-6-Startes in Kourou wurden uns vorgestellt:


Hauptstufe und Oberstufe der Ariane-6 werden in Kourou im Liegen für den Start vorbereitet und auch zur Startrampe gefahren. Auf der Startplattform werden diese aufgerichtet. Der Anbau der Feststoffbooster und der Nutzlastverkleidung samt Nutzlast wird im Vertikalen in der fahrbaren Montagehalle erfolgen.


Anschließend gab es dann eine beeindruckenden Vorführung des 3D-Programmes welches zum Designen der Ariane-6 benutzt wurde. Dabei wurde auch die Funktionsweise der einzelnen Komponenten der Ariane-6 erläutern. Hier sind einige visuelle Eindrücke der Präsentation:


Ein Feststoffbooster der Ariane-6 im 3D-Designprogramm. Das Bild ist nicht unscharf, sondern es wird eine 3D-Brille benötigt um den 3D-Effekt wahrnehmen zu können.


Das untere Ende einer Ariane-6 A62 mit zwei Feststoffboostern im 3D-Design-Programm.


Die SYLDA-Dopplestartstruktur wird auch bei der Ariane-6 eingesetzt werden. Es wird eine verlängerte SYLDA-Variante geben.  Diese wird es ermöglichen zwei gleichgroße Kommunikationssatelliten zu transportieren.


Zum Abschluß des Events gab es eine äußerst interessante Fragestunden mit vier Ingenieuren des Ariane-6-Programmes. Wir konnten ausführlich Fragen stellen, welche dann ausführlich beantwortet wurden. Ich habe diese Möglichkeit natürlich ausführlich genutzt. Zum einen hatte ich natürlich selbst diverse Fragen, andererseits hatte ich ja auch auf Twitter und bei Facebook Fragen gesammelt. Und auch diese wurde natürlich beantwortet.


Diese vier Ariane-6-Experten standen uns für eine Fragesession zur Verfügung.

Mit dieser Fragestunde kam dann auch dieser wirklich denkwürdige Besuch bei der ArianeGroup zum Ende. Wir möchten uns bei dieser Gelegenheit natürlich für die Einladung zum Event herzlich bei der ArianeGroup bedanken. Und natürlich möchten wir die neue Offenheit und die gegebene Möglichkeit zum Fotografieren und für Videoaufnahmen  ganz entschieden begrüssen. So würden wir dann auch gerne wieder zur ArianeGroup nach Les Mureaux kommen um über den Produktionsstart der Ariane-6 berichten zu können. Merci beaucoup!


Euer Mauso


Teil I: Der Besuch in der großen Montagehalle für die Hauptstufe der Ariane-5



Teil II: Die Doppelstartstruktur SYLDA