September 7, 2010

EU Should Better Support Space Sector

The European Union executive commission is not providing adequate support to the European space sector, which is in close competition with US space agency NASA, Astrium chairman Francois Augue said during an interview published on Monday.

"Every country is backing its industry, except Europe," argued Augue in the French finance paper Les Echos. "If Brussels implements the policy that is being developed, it will ultimately mean the end of Europe's space industry presence on the world scene."

The European Commission wants to boost competition in the aerospace industry by supporting small and medium-sized companies. It has awarded a contract to German firm OHB to construct 14 satellites for the European geo-positioning system Galileo.

Augue told Les Echos that it is very worrisome. "The real question is the following: 'who is going to take on the American exporters?' And the response is 'the big companies.'"

Astrium, a subsidiary of the European aerospace group EADS, sold seven telecommunications satellites last year. But it has been less optimistic about its performance in 2010.

Augue said maintaining "a pace of five (satellite sales) a year would be a very good result."

He predicted sales this year to be below the 11 billion dollars recorded in 2009 because of "a slowdown in institutional orders."