18–19 September 2024 ESA Event

Space Rider panel: Questions and Answers

Please find below answers provided by Giorgio Tumino, Space Rider panel chair at the Industry Space Days, to questions submitted by the audience which could not be addressed anymore during the panel discussion on 7 December:

Q1: When do you expect the market to be mature and big enough to absorb all that offer about space transportation and logistics?

Market response to the offered in-orbit servicing will greatly depend on the capability of the service providers to decline their technical and programmatic potential in terms of a business case in line with the new space deal; that is, their capability to offer lean processes and commercially attractive services. Massive resources are currently devoted to terrestrial experimentation and development of manufacturing technologies, service providers capability to highlight space environment positive impact on the corresponding business case will be crucial to evolve the current space market towards an effective commercial utilisation and thus enlarge space services global market reach.

Q2: How long can payloads stay in space?

Payload flight operations time length is mainly driven by the Payload Aggregate chosen at each Space Rider mission, Payloads combination and harmonised operations timeline at the level of the whole Aggregate will dictate in the future the in-flight operations time. The vehicle and the ground system are designed to provide service flexibility in this respect. The requirement given to industry for the development is 2 months minimum duration to ensure the power generation and autonomy in orbit. Therefore, Space Rider can stay in space for several months without limitation.

Q3: In terms of pricing for IOD/IOV for commercial/private businesses – is pricing globally competitive for experiments/technologies that do not need to come back to Earth? Or then your market is only targeting return payloads?

Yes, we consider pricing globally very competitive with respect to alternative return solutions currently available. We shall consider that the majority of IOV/IOD experiments have by nature strong interest to inspect their hardware; for those who do not, in-flight automated operations allow by definition a remarkable cost saving with respect to human-driven experiments execution.

Q4: What is the maximum time Space Rider will be in space during each launch?

Space Rider can stay in space as long as required by the payloads, in line with what is reported in the answer above

Q5: How many times can the AVUM be re-ignited?

AVUM is routinely providing 5 re-ignitions for Vega multi-P/L missions, and the number of re-ignition capability can be increased significantly with minor delta qualification effort.

Q6: Is the time-between-flight a reasonable timeframe for Space Rider?

Today we are assuming 9 months between each flight with the objective to reduce it to 6 months after the first flights

Q7: What is expected to be the cost per kg or unit to launch on Space Rider? Will ESA subsidise part of the cost?

It is difficult to provide a fix price figure since it depends on the needs of each payload (experiment time, specific pointing needs, specific telemetry needs, etc). However, we are considering 70 keuro / kg (for launch, orbital operations, return) as part of the standard services including ESA possible support.

Q8: Late-access appears to be a key element for life science. What is the latest you can embark payloads before launch?

By design 20 hours before lift-off, we are working to further reduce this time.