Sunday, March 24, 2013

Hermes at liftoff - 1979 Artwork

A beautiful artwork of Hermes on the launchpad taken from a October 1979 magazine .
The variant of the spaceplane depicted here is the original version presented by CNES at the Paris Airshow the previous spring.

Interestingly, the launch vehicle envisioned is an Ariane 1. The maiden flight of that rocket was just 2 months after the issue of the magazine and this may have influenced the artist.
However, in no way an Ariane 1 would have been able to throw Hermes in orbit. The first  operational rocket of ESA was designed to deliver payloads in GTO (1 800kgs) not to LEO. But even with a reduced 3rd stage, the booster capability would have never fit with the 10 tons mass of Hermes.

Instead, CNES planned to use an uprated version of Ariane 4, dubbed "Ariane 5" with an enlarged 2nd stage. That rocket would have been very different from the Ariane 5 that will eventually be built and fly 15 years later.

Source : Science et Vie #745, October 1979