Airbus puts SpaceX on notice with a reusable rocket concept called Adeline

airbus adeline reusable rocket concept screen shot 2015 06 09 at 10 29 16 am 0
The biggest hurdle that is preventing commercial space flight from becoming affordable to the general public is the cost of building a rocket. It’s ridiculously expensive to shoot something up into space, and if you can’t recover it, all of the money you spent building it goes down the drain.

One potential solution to this problem is building reusable rocket systems. Companies like SpaceX (and more recently, Amazon) have been trying to develop reusable rocket systems for years, but their previous attempts at returning their Falcon 9 reusable rocket system back on Earth have had mixed results.

Now, another company has joined the fray. European aerospace company Airbus recently unveiled its concept reusable space launch system called Adeline, which stands for Advanced Expendable Launcher with INnovative engine Economy. True to its name, Adeline uses an innovative solution to get the rocket’s first stage engines back in one piece. Unlike SpaceX’s Falcon 9, the Adeline will have wings and propellers which will enable it to follow a ballistic trajectory as it enters the Earth’s atmosphere, and then land on a runway just like an airplane does.

Adeline will employ a very different method of return in comparison to the SpaceX’s Falcon 9. Unlike the Falcon 9, which attempts to salvage the rocket’s entire first stage (the big fuel tank and the engine) by using reserved fuel to slow down its descent until it reaches a landing platform, Adeline will detach itself from the fuel tank completely, keeping only the engines and avionics, and continue on a ballistic path until it reenters Earth’s atmosphere. Once there, it will use a set of winglets and propellers to land horizontally on a runway. A computer animation of the concept can be viewed in the video below.

The main benefit of this method, according to Airbus, is that it consumes much less fuel than SpaceX’s method. It’s worth pointing out that most of Adeline’s value lies in its engines, not its fuel tank. If the SpaceX method can safely land the fuel tank, it might make up for the additional fuel required, but so far SpaceX hasn’t been successful in landing a Falcon 9.

Getting the first stage engine of Adeline back to Earth will help salvage around 70 to 80 percent of the total value of the launch vehicle according to Airbus. It’s still just a concept at this point, but if the concept becomes a reality, it will likely help drive down the cost commercial space flight. Adeline has been in development since 2010, and Airbus expects the system to be ready for its maiden launch by 2025.

Product Review

Ring Alarm makes DIY home security simple and affordable enough for everyone

Ring first made waves with its video doorbell, and now the Amazon-owned company is moving on to home security with the Ring Alarm. You can install the sensors and keypads yourself, then have Ring professionally monitor your home.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Passenger spacecraft, Facebook data breach, and more

This episode of Digital Trends Live saw the fourth launch of passenger spacecraft SpaceShipTwo, and a Facebook data breach. We were also joined by the founder of Forter, Michael Reitblat, to discuss how to keep your data safe.
Emerging Tech

Virgin Galactic’s latest test flight takes it to the edge of space

Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic has successfully carried out its fourth powered flight in Mojave, California. It was the company's most ambitious test flight yet -- and bodes well for the future.
Emerging Tech

Prepare for liftoff: Here are all the important upcoming SpaceX rocket launches

From ISS resupply missions to a host of communication and scientific satellite launches, SpaceX has a busy year ahead. Here's a rundown of some of the company's most important missions slated for the next year.
Emerging Tech

We’re going to the Red Planet! All the past, present, and future missions to Mars

SpaceX isn't the only organization pining to visit the Red Planet. Here's a detailed list of all operational and planned missions to Mars, along with explanations of their objectives, spacecraft details, and mission proposals.
Emerging Tech

There’s a giant EMP blaster in New Mexico. Don’t worry, it’s here to protect us

An electromagnetic pulse has the potential to disable virtually all electronics within a large area. To help protect against such a threat is a new, friendly EMP emitter. Here's how it works.
Product Review

This was 3D printed? With the Anycubic Photon, you can't tell

Never mind the fact that the Anycubic Photon 3D printer only costs 500 bucks. In terms of sheer print quality, this printer is on the same level as machines that cost six times as much.
Emerging Tech

There’s a new lab-grown meat startup on the block — and it has a secret weapon

Aleph Farms is developing lab-grown steaks with the same flavor, shape, texture, and structure as the real thing using beef cells isolated from living cows. Coming soon to a store near you?
Smart Home

This A.I.-enabled tech brings cutting-edge automation to grocery stores

Takeoff Technologies is working to make grocery deliveries fast, accurate, and convenient using A.I.-enabled technology to augment robotic grocery orders that can be completed in minutes.
Emerging Tech

The best 3D printers of 2018

On the hunt for a new 3D printer? We've got your back. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned veteran, this list of the best 3D printers has what you're looking for.
Emerging Tech

Postmates’ to roll out Minion-like autonomous delivery robots in 2019

Postmates is about to employ a cute little robot to work alongside its human delivery personnel. Called Serve, the wheel-based bot can carry items weighing up to 50 pounds and has a range of 30 miles.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.
Emerging Tech

Are e-cigarettes safe? Here’s what the most recent science says

Ecigarettes are widely regarded and advertised as a healthier alternative to cigarettes for people who are trying to kick the smoking habit. How safe are these cigarette alternatives? We went deep into the recent scientific literature to…
Emerging Tech

Thrill-seekers will be able to pilot themselves in a giant drone as soon as 2019

Want to hitch a ride on a giant drone? The startup Lift Aircraft is gearing up to let paying customers fly its 18-rotor giant drones over assorted scenic landscapes across the U.S.