Airbus Defence & Space, formerly known as EADS and the part owner of the Arianespace rocket company, has been roundly criticised by the French Parliamentary Space Group. A French Senator, and member of the Space Group, Alain Gourac, has protested to France’s Economy & Industry Minister, Emmanuel Macron, about Airbus and its past attempt to secure a launch on its arch-rival SpaceX rockets for an “Ariane” launch of a telecoms satellite.
“The negotiations are all the more unacceptable given that, at the insistence of France, Europe has decided to adopt a policy of ‘European preference’ for its government launches,” Gournac said. “This is called playing against your team, and it smacks of a provocation. It’s an incredible situation that might lead customers to think we no longer have faith in Ariane 5 — and tomorrow, Ariane 6,” quotes trade mag Space News in a story by Peter de Selding.
The satellite in question is for Europe’s Data Relay Service (EDRS) which Airbus manages on behalf of the European Union. Airbus is also responsible for finding a launch rocket for the satellite.
The news has caused extreme consternating at Arianespace with CEO Stephane Israel stating quite loudly that his rocket system has plenty of capacity during 2016 – when the satellite will be ready for launch.
December 12th saw a statement issued by Airbus saying it had not signed a contract with SpaceX or anyone else, but would soon enter negotiations with the European Space Agency and Arianespace for the planned launch.