posted on Jul, 11 2018 @ 06:44 AM
Here a few additions to anzah's cool "Human Spaceflight Progress Around the World" threads.
Spaceflight Progress in Europe
Europe currently has three launch vehicles.
The Ariane 5 is the primary heavy launcher in service since 1997. It has seen a number of updates increasing thrust and payload. It will be succeeded
by Ariane 6 focusing on lowering fabrication costs and launch prices.
A Soyuz-2 is used for medium payloads, manufactured in Russia under a joint venture and shipped to French Guiana for assembly and launch.
A relatively recent addition is a small payload launcher Vega. An improved version of its first stage will be used as Areane 6 side booster.
Human spaceflight and spaceplanes seem to be of interest, but struggle with ambitious goals and financing.
In the 1980s-90s there was the Hermes spaceplane project, a compact glider designed to carry 6-3 astronauts and launched by Ariane 5. It was canceled
due to unachievable performance and cost goals.
A more ambitious project followed around 2000. The Hopper was supposed to be a horizontal take-off system involving a 4 km magnetic/steam sled launch
system. The project didn't progress beyond a subscale flight/glide demonstrator (Phoenix).
More recently there has been more successful experimental work on reentry vehicles, a capsule (ARD) and a small glider (IXV).
Spaceflight Progress in Japan
Japan launched its first satellite 1970 using a small solid fuel rocket. 1994 the liquid-fueled heavy rocket H2 was introduced. It had some
reliability issues. The H2A/H2B derivatives seem to do better though.
For (really) small payloads they've developed the SS-520. Only 31 feet tall, technically a sounding rocket, it is seen as the smallest rocket to ever
put an object in orbit around Earth.
They are also doing some cool stuff like testing solar sails (2004/2006/2010) and plan a solar sail mission to Jupiter around 2020.