After three years of near-obsessive focus on launch vehicles leading to the next-generation Ariane 6 rocket, France turns its attention to satellites.
The head of Europe’s Arianespace launch consortium on May 12 said the company can beat competitor SpaceX in the open market with a euro/dollar exchange rate at today’s levels and the planned 5-6 percent reduction in Ariane 5 rocket production and launch costs.
CNES awarded Airbus Defence and Space a contract worth 30 million euros to build the spacecraft platform and perform payload integration for the French-German Merlin methane-monitoring satellite.
Arianespace will use a Vega to launch Peru’s high-resolution optical reconnaissance satellite in the first half of 2016 under a contract signed March 25 with Airbus, the satellite’s builder.
The principal beneficiaries of the government program have been France’s two main satellite prime contractors, Airbus Defence and Space, and Thales Alenia Space.
French space minister Genevieve Fioraso on March 5 resigned from her position, citing health reasons that had been known for several months.
Just when it appeared as though European countries, despite all good intentions, were incapable of collaborating more closely on operational satellite programs, along comes word that Germany is buying into France’s next-generation optical satellite reconnaissance system.
European governments appear to have missed a big opportunity for costs savings with the French Defense Ministry’s decision to move ahead with plans to procure a pair of dedicated military communications satellites from a pair of domestic manufacturers.
The French Defense Ministry will order two military telecommunications satellites from French prime contractors in the coming weeks in a conventional procurement that likely will divide the work between Airbus Defence and Space, and Thales Alenia Space.
Even as it struggles to align its military space goals with a 2015 budget that has not been fully secured, the French Defense Ministry has tapped Airbus and Thales for initial work on France’s first operational eavesdropping satellite.
The French government will reform its Coface export-credit agency to enable it to offer financial backing to satellite projects at the same rates as its American counterpart, France’s space minister said Nov. 11
France’s space minister said Ariane’s U.S. competitors are all but “dumping” their rockets on the commercial market.
The French Defense Ministry said its planned electronic-intelligence satellite and next-generation military telecommunications satellite systems have survived a rough arbitrage of France’s budget and would be under contract in 2015.