One British version has the gun designed in the UK and in use at Farnborough and it is the Americans who are given the design and wreck their aircraft. In the 1960's Frozen chickens were far more common in America than in the UK.
I like this design; small enough to be versatile, but big enough to do some serious work.1987An early version of the Rosny Aine design, featuring a vertical stabilizer and a large, singular main engine, likely derived from the American SSME.
And Now: Something Decidedly French
View attachment 719653
Throughout the 1970's and 80's, the European Space Agency often found itself in conflict. On the one hand, its commercial efforts with the Ariane program suited their general needs very well, and improvements on the first four iterations of the rocket family only enhanced the benefits of the program. But, on the other, when looking beyond commercial or domestic satellite launches, ESA found themselves lacking, and far too over reliant on foreign launch providers. While it was always understood that the ESA, and Europe in general, could not truly hope to compete with the likes of the Soviet Union or the United States, even in the late 70's a certain member of the ESA saw things very differently.
France's CNES, who had led the development of the Ariane rockets that the ESA relied on, had a desire to break this reliance on foreign spacecraft, and in 1975, began a program that sought to give France, and Europe too, its own manned spacecraft. From the beginning, not seeing the value in trying to grandstand with superpowers, the expectation was never to match the US or USSR in capabilities, but merely to build a spacecraft that could service European needs in space. To this end, the program began with research and design phases to determine the shape of their eventual launch vehicle, whether that be a conventional space capsule like that of the Russian Soyuz or the old Apollo Command Module, or a (much smaller) spaceplane like that of the superpowers newer Space Shuttle designs.
For the first six years of the program, the engineers were fairly evenly split on the issue. On the one hand, a capsule design would be lighter and cheaper to develop, while on the other a spaceplane would allow for more flexibility in mission designs, while also potentially reducing operational costs by way of easier recovery and, naturally, the reuse of the plane. But by 1981, following the initial successes of the two superpower's Shuttles, the spaceplane concept began to garner more favor, and in less than a year, CNES as a whole was committed to the spaceplane, and proceeded with the initial design work. The program, now bearing the tentative name Hermes, would see CNES refining the design throughout the next three years, eventually coming up with two designs, which the French team would present to its partner nation counterparts in September of 1985.
The two designs were fundamentally identical, but only differed in their scale, and the nature of their payload configuration, which in turn meant the development costs for a paired Ariane rocket to launch them would be different, hence why the French team opted to present two options.
The French preferred design, which was nicknamed Rosny Aine, was the larger of the two. Superficially resembling a miniaturized version of the American Space Shuttle, if only in configuration, the design featured a crew compartment with seating for six, an unpressurized cargo bay, and an integrated service module, which housed the spacecraft's orbital maneuvering thrusters and its twin main engines. While the design had a comparable crew size to that of the US Space Shuttle or the Soviet MKS, the actual spacecraft was a little more than half of the size. Due to its size, however, either a much more powerful Ariane or a clean-sheet rocket design would be necessary to launch the spaceplane, which increased the projected development costs for the program.
The smaller design, which the team had nicknamed Verne, was scaled down slightly from the Rosny Aine, featuring a smaller, pressurized cargo bay (which could thus not carry or otherwise retrieve satellites), an expendable service module which replaced the main engines and OMS, and a shrunk crew size of three. This design also required uprating of the Ariane rocket, but was projected to be much less costly to enable than the larger design.
View attachment 719654
The Rosny Aine as presented in October, 1985.
Both designs were intended to serve multiple stations in Low Earth Orbit, such as a Spacelab derived manned station, an unmanned remote sensing station, and others, and it was noted that the Rosny Aine would also be able to handle satellite servicing at a fraction of the cost of what NASA was asking for such services from their Space Shuttle.
While the French team was confident in their designs, and had in self-awareness presented multiple options specifically to avoid having their ambitions work against them, they found these efforts were for naught. Citing the longstanding partnership with NASA, as well as the ESA's planned involvement in their new space station, the Hermes project was flatly rejected, with certain members, notably the United Kingdom, even arguing that it was very well possible that the Ariane program may not even survive, much less their own spaceplane. The French, not ones to be deterred, would leave these meetings in October empty handed, but CNES would continue to fund the project, charging the team with refining the designs further, an oddly prescient decision.
In 1986, the ESA would find themselves facing a very unexpected cold-shoulder from NASA. In the wake of the Challenger disaster, practically all discussion of the ESA's contributions to Freedom had ceased entirely, and by December, the Discovery disaster had all but sealed the proverbial deal. Freedom, if it was ever going to fly, wasn't going up any time soon, and the ESA was effectively out its partner in space. And with the Soviets facing their own apparent standdown of both their Interkosmos program and their MKS flights in general, Europe as a whole would find itself effectively alone, with only their unmanned Ariane to provide access to space. And so, following Challenger, the ESA would collectively decide to put their weight behind the Hermes program, selecting the Rosny Aine design to make up for the apparent losses from NASA. The program, beginning in earnest in January of 1987, had two years to both finalize the Rosny Aine design, and to work out a "Europeanization" of the project, determining which member states would be handing what aspects of the program, and their respective stake in the project, just as had been done with Ariane years before, whose own uprating would continue under the same conditions. By the time of Discovery, this Europeanization was already complete, as CNES wanted as much time and focus as possible to spend towards Rosny Aine. France and West Germany would share an equal 33% stake in the project (Germany's contribution being rather unexpected for CNES, but not unwelcome as it doubled their originally proposed work share), with Italy carrying 15%, Belgium 7%, and the remainder split between the United Kingdom, Spain, Sweden, and the other member states.
With this funding secured, CNES began in earnest on the Rosny Aine. With the 1986 NASA disasters fresh in their minds, the design would face several changes, and some unexpected help from the Soviet Union. With the Rosny always intended to launch in-line with its Ariane launcher, thus avoiding the debris strike potential that the Soviet and American Shuttles had to content with, the Discovery disaster and subsequent investigations had revealed that the silica tile based thermal protection system, which Rosny was originally designed to use, would present an untenable risk and potentially bloated operational costs to boot. While CNES had begun some preliminary work on finding an alternative, in the summer, the ESA would be approached by representatives of the RKK Energia, CNES' equivalent in the Soviet Union.
Under direction from Mikhail Gorbachev, apparently in effort to help fund his planned Cosmos program, ESA was made lease offers for Soviet space technology. While the ESA as a whole was primarily interested in the leasing of Soviet rocket engines (which the Soviets were hesitant to provide), CNES would manage to work out a deal to lease the Soviets thermal protection system from their MKS Orbiters, which the Soviets were all too happy to provide, given France pitched in individually from the ESA to help seal the deal, leasing the technology from the Soviets for nearly 25 million Euros a year, for 10 years. The attempt at leasing rocket engines would, however, fail, as the few prices that could be haggled out of the Soviets were far too steep.
Despite this, as part of the deal on the TPS, CNES would be able to enlist Soviet engineers in the initial set up and manufacturing of the TPS for the first Rosny Aine spaceplane, with any additional sets manufactured being the full responsibility of the ESA.
With an adequate TPS system in-line, all that was needed was to continue the development process, with work proceeding practically around the clock throughout 1987.
View attachment 719655
The Rosny Aine circa 1987. This design would become the primary configuration for the vehicle throughout the rest of its development.
But, the program still found itself at its ends, as while the spaceplane and uprating of Ariane was proceeding, the locations it was intended to service were not. The member states had decided to take the approach of one thing at a time, expecting that once the Rosny Aine were flying, that then they would be able to pursue further projects.
Its often wondered, however, what may have happened had the ESA been more willing to look beyond its own borders; after all, they were not the only ones snubbed by NASA.
*To pre-empt a potential lecture on the economic state of West Germany in 1987...I know. Wait and see. 😉
*Also, Aine in French isnt spelled that way, but lazy sooo...
This is an allohistorical space timeline. Ridiculousness and blatant flippancy in following design requirements are the currency of the realm. Ergo that which is the perkiest of tits ought to win.Not all of the submitted designs would be quite as ridiculous or blatantly flippant in following the design requirements, however.
Can NASA at least keep the other two operational (supplemented with replacement?) until the new vehicle is operational? I don’t think anyone would want another multi year gap.
Winged Apollo, SERV, HL20 and Shuttle II all in one post, nice
This is an allohistorical space timeline. Ridiculousness and blatant flippancy in following design requirements are the currency of the realm. Ergo that which is the perkiest of tits ought to win.
An Eternal SERV Partisan
True enough. I'm pretty sure the artist doesn't look too deeply into the histories of the vehicles he's depicted, which frankly is fine with me given how good everything else is about it.That video takes the butterfly effect and stomps all over it. No way would SERV be used for ISS. You’re talking a Skylab 2 here.