Space policy about giving Europeans autonomy - President

European Union – Space policy/ceremony to lay the first stone of the Ariane 6 factory – Speech by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic (excerpts)

Les Mureaux, 14 November 2016


Ariane is the world’s most reliable launcher, with 74 successful launches in a row. I know what that can mean. Every time, there’s a twinge, a risk. Will it work? It always works, thanks to you. But there’s always the element of chance which we must, which you must overcome. But be proud, because it’s a very great technological feat and a great commercial success.

So this partnership, this success obliges us to move forward. Space Europe has decided to invest in launchers, with the promise by ASL [Airbus Safran Launchers] to halve the cost of a launcher between Ariane 5 and Ariane 6. We must do better, more cheaply. How do we achieve that? With an effort of research and investment, and an ability to control the process at every stage. Why must we do it? Because today the space industry too is subject to competition, and particularly competition from America, which would like, through the process we’re aware of – which we’re not going to describe here – to gain an advantage over us. So we have a duty to be the best, while accepting competition. That’s the whole purpose of the company ASL, because that’s what we wanted to do by pooling all our talent, all our experience.

There also had to be a budgetary effort by France, by Germany – which have accomplished it – and also by all our partners. It’s not always easy in negotiations, right up to the last minute; there were a few arguments, but we achieved it. The decision didn’t necessarily get the widest media coverage. The biggest decisions often go unnoticed, except when people see their effects. But this decision by the European Space Agency, the European partners, France and Germany, will mean we can launch Ariane 6 in barely 1,500 days from now.

In total, Ariane 6 will mean €1 billion in investments and employment for 8,000 ASL employees and 1,000 on the Les Mureaux site. This in itself is one of the justifications for my being here: to pay tribute to the feats you’ve accomplished and the efforts you’ve made, and above all encourage you to move forward, given what’s at stake.

I also wanted to come and show what Europe is. We sometimes know what it isn’t or what it no longer is, what it’s lacking (lack of initiatives, lack of will) when it comes to pursuing an economic or social goal. There’s even one country which has left Europe. We’re also seeing how much people depend on Europe to protect our borders and guarantee our security, especially in the context we’re experiencing, where we have to rely on ourselves.

We can also see what Europe enables Europeans to do and offers them: pride and ambition. Space Europe is part of what the European dream can still – always – nurture. First of all because it’s about having the autonomy to go into space, and that’s the purpose of the European Space Agency. Secondly, why do people want that autonomy? Because it’s also a guarantee of having an independent source of information. By observing the Earth, we ourselves can prevent the planet from being affected by [global] warming, or at any rate monitor the commitments that have been made, until tomorrow in Marrakesh, to move forward with the Paris Agreement. Observation is essential in order to know where there are risks, where there are threats. And also for our own security: the military observation we can ensure thanks to our satellites, particularly with Germany and Italy.

There’s also control of communications: that’s also a considerable challenge in terms of independence. The Galileo satellites will enable us, in a few weeks’ time, to get even more accurate locations than GPS. We can be the best in this field too. You can also see what a vital objective this can be, including when it comes to combating certain threats.

Europe also has the capability to explore space and have scientific programmes. People remember the Philae probe, which landed on the comet. They also remember ExoMars, even though we didn’t manage to complete it. But we’ve already gathered very important data, collected by the probe. (…)./.

Published on 16/11/2016

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