Europe's Dream of Independent Manned Spaceflight

Luc van Den Abeelen

SPACEPLANE HERMES: Europe's Dream of Independent Manned Spaceflight This is the first comprehensive book to document the European Hermes program. It tells the fascinating story of how Europe aimed for an independent manned spaceflight capability which was to complement the US and Soviet-Russian space activities. In 1975, France decided to expand its plans for automated satellites for materials processing to include the development of a small 10 ton spaceplane to be launched on top of a future heavy-lifting Ariane rocket. This Hermes spaceplane would give Europe its own human spaceflight capability for shuttling crews between Earth and space stations. The European Space Agency backed the proposal. Unfortunately, after detailed studies, the project was cancelled in 1993. If Hermes had been introduced into service, it could have become the preferred "space taxi" for ferrying crews to and from the International Space Station. But that opportunity was lost.

This book provides the first look at the complete story and the reasons for the demise of this ambitious program. It also gives an account of which components of Hermes survived and remain active in the second decade of the 21st century. This fascinating story is a great read for space enthusiasts but also serves as a comprehensive documentation of an important episode in the history of manned spaceflight.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Jean-Jacques Dordain ESA Director General 2003-2015

1. Origins: Re-entry Vehicles and Orbital Factories (1946-1983)
2. Getting Serious: CNES Develops a Concept (1983-1985)
3. One or the Other: Selecting the Prime Contractor (1985)
4. Safety Rethink: The Challenger Accident (1986)
5. The Road not Taken: CNES Decides Against Maia (1987)
6. The Hague: Adoption by ESA (1987-1988)
7. Ever Growing: Hermes Gains a Module (1988-1989)
8. Competition and the Others: Spacecraft from Around the World
9. Shifting Priorities: Equipment Relocations (1989-1990)
10. The Transatlantic Scene: Freedom Struggles, Columbus and the DoD
11. Buying Time: The six-month Extension of Phase 1 (1990)
12. Outside Influence: The Costly Fall of the Berlin Wall (1990-1991)
13. Change at Munich: Stretching the Imagination (1991)
14. Scaling Down: X-2000 and Russia to the Rescue (1991-1992)
15. Grenada: The End of the Road (1992)
16. Descendants: Of Astronauts and Wings
17 Space Freighter for ISS: The Promise of ATV
18 Hermes' Legacy: A Continued Mission of Sorts
19 Keeping in Touch: The DRS Satellites and Mission Control
20 Staying Cool: The Thermal Protection System
21 In Orbit Infrastructure: Platforms and Space Stations
22 Learning to Fly: Astronauts and Their Training
23 Inside and Out: The Space Suits and Escape Systems
24 Lift-Off and Getting Home Safely: Preparation, Launch and Landing Facilities
25 Looking Back: The Hermes Experience
26 Afterword

Appendix A: Abbreviations and Acronyms
Appendix B: ESA conversion rates for one Accounting Unit 1985-1993
Appendix C: Greek Mythology Sources of Names in the Hermes and Related Programmes

Extent: 588 pages, Black and white/colour images integrated with text
Binding: Paperback
Published: 2017
ISBN: 978-3-319-44470-3

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