Although I know programs and visions of many space companies, I'd like to ask, does anybody knows if there is any competitor to SpaceX that wants to create a reusable rocket in the future?

Let's face it - in case SpaceX is successful in this area, the price of launch would decrease and this would lead to a gigantic advantage for SpaceX.

I know that there are many new companies, such as Blue Origin and Masten Space Systems, but I am concerned about traditional companies (ULA, Arianespace, ..). Or is what we are seeing here a disruption of the spaceflight sector, where old companies would disappear and new companies take over?

  • $\begingroup$ "I have one question." Famous last words, and contradicted by asking two questions within three paragraphs. $\endgroup$ – Andrew Thompson Mar 30 '17 at 7:16

Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin has flown their New Sheppard vehicle, and reused the boost stage several times now. They intend to build a New Glenn vehicle that would be competitive with the Falcon 9 class payloads; like Falcon 9, it would land the first stage vertically.

ULA has discussed the Vulcan launcher where the engine pod would sever itself from the rest of the stage and re-enter under a ballute/parachute style model. They plan on initially replacing Atlas V and Delta 4 with Vulcan and then later enabling engine recovery. The engines would be picked out the air by a helicopter with a hook (Much as spy satellite film canisters were collected regularly).

Ariane has discussed ABILENE which is similar to Vulcan in that only the engine pod is recovered, but it would fly itself to a landing. As a commenter notes Arianespace is unclear if this is even worth it.

But Vulcan and ADELINE seem very pie in the sky compared to New Glenn and an actual flying reusable booster.

The Russians propose flyback boosters every so often that go nowhere. I could go flip through Anatoly Zak's book or website and list off the various paper only Russian reusable boosters (MAKS, Zenit even, Buran) but why bother they are all paper.

  • $\begingroup$ The Arianespace concept is called Adeline, businessinsider.com/… $\endgroup$ – Hobbes Mar 30 '17 at 11:18
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    $\begingroup$ AFAIK, Arianespace is skeptical whether reuse will actually be economically viable - it is uncertain what will be the actual costs of refurbishing a booster. Big part of the cost of a launch is also the operations parts (preparing the launchpad and the rocket + payload), which are not affected by reusability. So they may actually be correct. nasaspaceflight.com/2016/07/… $\endgroup$ – Martin Modrák Mar 30 '17 at 11:46
  • $\begingroup$ Last I checked, the Vulcan SMART concept was going to use helicopters, not a C-130. Source? $\endgroup$ – DylanSp Mar 30 '17 at 12:25
  • $\begingroup$ @DylanSp Probably correct, will edit and correct. I was thinking size would be too heavy for a helicopter. $\endgroup$ – geoffc Mar 30 '17 at 13:51
  • $\begingroup$ @Hobbes Age of Adeline or Abilene. Tomato/Tomato, its all french to me. $\endgroup$ – geoffc Mar 30 '17 at 13:54

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