France Puts Up $39 Million To Keep its Companies in the LEO Constellation Game

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JERUSALEM — The French government, determined that its industry not lose out on what might be a large new business in building low-orbiting satellite communications constellations, has issued a request for bids to industry for ideas on new components and manufacturing techniques.

In a joint statement issued Oct. 16, the French space agency, CNES, and France’s Bank for Public Investment (BPI) said BPI will issue contracts totaling up to 35 million euros ($39 million) for French industry to hone its skills.

The funding originates in the French government’s Projects for an Industry of the Future (PIA) program to stimulate French competitiveness.

In the statement, CNES and BPI said the new low-orbiting constellations of Internet-delivery satellites “constitute new commercial opportunities for [French] industry. But they require an effort to reduce design, development and production cost and a new large-scale manufacturing of satellites.”