SpaceX headquarters.
SpaceX headquarters. Credit: SpaceX

PARIS — Jean-Yves Le Gall, president of the French space agency, CNES, used a SpaceX comparison to describe the defects of Europe’s current launch vehicle sector. Europe’s problem, he said, is an excess of linoleum.

Addressing a French parliamentary hearing, Le Gall said he has learned to appreciate consolidation and simplicity in his several visits to the Space Exploration Technologies Corp. facility in Hawthorne, California. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket has become a commercial threat to Europe’s launch industry.

“At the ground level you have a linoleum-covered floor where they do rocket production and integration,” Le Gall said of the SpaceX building. “On the next level, with the carpeting, you have the design offices. And on an upper floor you have the sales and marketing team, with the parquet floor. In Europe, we have far too much linoleum.”

Le Gall in the past has said that to achieve maximum efficiency, Europe’s current Ariane industrial landscape must reduce the integration facilities from around two dozen to perhaps no more than three.

Le Gall did not say whether the carpeted offices involved in Ariane design — notably CNES’s own launcher directorate — would need a similar trimming. Nor did he say whether Europe’s Arianespace commercial launch provider and rocket sales agent would need to shrink to smaller offices, even with parquet floors. Le Gall is a former chief executive of Arianespace.

Peter B. de Selding was the Paris bureau chief for SpaceNews.