QUOTE (vjkane @ Nov 4 2007, 12:00 PM)
However, the purchasing power of the 640M euros in Europe is really more like $640M (unless ESA builds the craft in the United States).
I'd be interested in your rationale for that remark.
My sense, having worked in both environments, is that the purchasing power in Europe is (or at least was)
higher than the $$ equivalent - I think typically there are fewer warm bodies doing a given task in Europe (dunno
how the work hours add up, but the number of individuals is smaller). ESA does have issues like juste retour
which will surely decrease the fiscal efficiency of a project, so you might well be right, but I am curious why
you say so.
It is worth noting that the ESA mission cost reflects the platform only - the not insignificant costs of payloads
(and it is perhaps a semantic distinction as to whether you consider sub-vehicles like a French balloon as a
payload or a separate spacecraft) are borne separately by the member states, so perhaps 800 or more Meuro
might get spent in total in Europe on a '640 M' ESA project
For a Titan mission, there are three key pieces of technology development required. The first is aerocapture, which will not be tried out in the next New Millennium mission.
All the technology developments in all the NASA Flagship studies were rolled into their costs, and schedules are
laid out accordingly so in some ways that shouldnt be a discriminator (at least if you believe the radiation issue is
solved) so I'd like to think therefore that scientific merit will be the deciding factor. You can also think of the
technology developments as assets rather than liens - announce you are spending $$$/EURO on a Titan Flagship and
soon there are test balloons floating around, robot arms digging in tents drenched with liquid nitrogen, cool stuff
like that - tangible stuff people can relate to and see their money being spent. Drop all your $$ on an orbiter and,
well, you get an orbiter.
Editorially, I think without exception everyone I have spoken to sees an aerocapture demo as technically
unnecessary - more of a 'give warm fuzzy feeling to program manager' exercise. (Recall that Apollo was
qualified to do skip entry, the Russian Zond probes actually did it ; I think Constellation will be doing it; MSL
has guided entry which is functionally similar.... the demo requirement could be removed with the stroke of a pen)