Sarkozy: Satellite Operators Should Cough Up the Euros Needed To Keep the European Launch Sector Going

Posted: December 20, 2010 in Uncategorized
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From Space News:

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is proposing that telecommunications satellite operators help support Europe’s government-sponsored space infrastructure through “innovative financing” of facilities that are unprofitable but indispensable to the health of the satellite telecommunications sector.

Such a suggestion is pretty clear: those telecommunications satellite operators don’t pay enough.

“We create added value for the downstream sector,” Sarkozy said of government investment in launch vehicles such as Europe’s Ariane 5 heavy-lift rocket. “I am thinking particularly of telecommunications. I certainly don’t want to constrain their development. But if they profit from an investment that we finance at 100 percent, can we not profit just a little bit from their financial creativity, through a spontaneous and generous contribution? Call it innovative financing, if you like.”

Spontaneous and generous contribution?  Like that’s gonna happen voluntarily.

In a recent policy analysis by Europe’s Air and Space Academy, former European government and industry launch-services managers proposed that satellite operators pay an annual fee of around 3 million euros for every satellite occupying a European-registered orbital slot. The money would be put into a fund to support Europe’s launch-vehicle operator when that company reports operating losses.

3 million euros per year per orbital slot is real money.  While the Fram man used to say “You can pay me now or you can pay me later,” I’d expect ‘later’ will be the universal industry response given the proposal in question. 

Sarkozy said France has agreed to invest in a new upper stage for the current Ariane 5 rocket, and in an Ariane 5 successor vehicle, because the sector cannot survive without massive government support. He said even large companies with minority state ownership such as EADS and Safran cannot undertake this kind of project. (emphasis added)

I think Sarkozy is suggesting to Europe is that if they want to stay in the space game, fee-for-service will become more the rule of thumb and free-riding will diminish.

  1. Coyote says:

    We talk a lot about fair markets and fair trade, but they are a fallacy. All governments treat their commercial sectors differently. This article illustrates how one foreign government routinely funds the infrastructure costs for their commercial space sector.

    Other countries do most of their commercial space enterprise in public/private partnerships.

    Meanwhile, our private entrepreneurs in the New$pace industry are given few such advantages by the USGov.



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