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Space Transportation

Airbus Attacked By French Lawmaker For Talking To SpaceX 168

schwit1 (797399) writes A French lawmaker lashed out at Airbus for daring to consider SpaceX as a possible launch option for a European communications satellite. "The senator, Alain Gournac, who is a veteran member of the French Parliamentary Space Group, said he had written French Economy and Industry Minister Emmanuel Macron to protest Airbus' negotiations with Hawthorne, California-based Space Exploration Technologies Corp. for a late 2016 launch instead of contracting for a launch on a European Ariane 5 rocket. "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."
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Airbus Attacked By French Lawmaker For Talking To SpaceX

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  • French Lawmakers have bigger balls than american lawmakers who encourage companies to off shore jobs

    • Even this particular French lawmaker will be singing a different tune when FHR is fully operational and puts satellites in orbit for $10 million that Ariane needs to charge $200 million just to break even.

      • No, because he gets a cut of the $200 million, and zero of the $10 million.

        • by jythie ( 914043 )
          Or if you want to to be less cynical, that $200M goes back to their economy and thus tax payers, while the $10M is gone. Not quite that simple of course, but a representative`s job is to do what benefits the people they are representing, and "here is a pile of money as long as you invest it back into the local economy" is kinda doing exactly that.
          • Doesn't that $200M first COME from the taxpayers, then is processed through Government/business interests, then the remainder trickle down to those same taxpayers who ponied up the $200M in the first place? Wouldn't it be better to simply leave the money with the taxpayers to start with?
            • quelle horreur

              If you leave the money with the peasants they might use it badly for things like food and housing.
              Much better to make certain it get spent for real needs by the government.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Stoutlimb ( 143245 )

      Bigger balls? No more like pathetic whiners when the shoe is on the other foot. Keep in mind, France is about to deliver 2 brand new aircraft carriers to Russia, while Russia is invading a NATO-friendly country and threatening to take back Alaska. Playing against the team indeed.

  • by jaredm1 ( 1620295 ) on Saturday December 13, 2014 @02:05PM (#48589587)
    If they had to run a company they'd run it into the ground instead of towards success. That's why they're politicians. Airbus, not the most efficient of global corporations, can remain a profitable concern only by making rational commercial decisions. If that means negotiating with a non-European supplier then the good French senator Alain Gournac ought to find out why Ariane 5 (or 6) were deficient and figure out how to make them competitive. But that would require the Monsieur Gournac to pull his thumb outta his ass and do some real work. Non, pas acceptable!
    • by Blue Stone ( 582566 ) on Saturday December 13, 2014 @03:15PM (#48589959) Homepage Journal

      Yes, France's public transport system, for example is an example of the sort of failure that we, for instance in the UK, shudder at.

      Cheap fares, efficient operation, a boon to the country and its people.

      Ours in the UK, meanwhile engages in double-dipping (making shareholder profits while receiving public subsidy), has terrible roling stock and fucking high ticket prices that rise regardless of the economics of the country, all along with local monopolies(!!!!)

      Those bloody French socialists and their incompetence!

    • by Blue Stone ( 582566 ) on Saturday December 13, 2014 @03:17PM (#48589965) Homepage Journal

      Also (I know, going for the jugular a bit here) do you want me to talk about Comcast? Cos I can talk about Comcast.

    • Airbus, not the most efficient of global corporations, can remain a profitable concern only by making rational commercial decisions. If that means negotiating with a non-European supplier then the good French senator Alain Gournac ought to find out why Ariane 5 (or 6) were deficient and figure out how to make them competitive.

      Airbus, a corporation, can only remain profitable by making rational commercial decisions. And France, a nation, can only remain prosperous by making rational political decisions. An

    • So instead, the French should run their companies like GE, McDonald Douglas, chrysler, Boeing, HP, dell, Compaq, sun, etc?
  • Heh (Score:5, Interesting)

    by EnsilZah ( 575600 ) <EnsilZah@ G m a i l . com> on Saturday December 13, 2014 @02:10PM (#48589617)

    The summary neglects to mention that Airbus is also the prime contractor on the sameself Ariane 5 they're snubbing.

    • P.S.
      What's the opposite of 'Eating your own dog food', 'Don't get high on your own supply'?
      Because it seems like they're taking that adage a little to literally.

  • by EdgePenguin ( 2646733 ) on Saturday December 13, 2014 @02:20PM (#48589689) Homepage

    All governments prop up their launch industries. Yes, this includes the US government supporting SpaceX: they wouldn't have made it through their early difficulties without NASA support. Elon Musk readily acknowledges this, its more his libertarian fanboys wanting to hold up as some paragon of the all-conquering private sector.

    That said, Ariane 5 is now looking a bit subsidy heavy, despite it being a very commercially successful launcher for years. This is why they are trying to make Ariane 6 much cheaper. If this doesn't work, or rather can't be made to work without an unacceptable subsidy, ESA really needs to look towards Skylon.

    • It is really doubtful Ariane 6 will be any cheaper per kg launched considering the design specs. As for Skylon it would take a long time and lots of money to develop assuming it could be made to work at all.

    • The Ariane 6 sounds like it would entail a lot of pointless duplication of work that SpaceX has already done. Skylon should be funded, but there is no guarantee that it'll work.

      I think the best way to get the European space launch industry back on track might be to take a hint from how the Chinese go about things and buy something like 100 Falcon 9 launches at above the normal going rate, with a special requirement that the rockets must be built in Europe.

      Then SpaceX could either turn down this giant deal t

    • "US government supporting SpaceX:"

      NASA may be partially supporting SpaceX through technical assistance and attempting to purchase launch services from them, but I would hardly say that the "US Government" is propping them up. In fact there have been several attempts to force NASA to abandon/limit their dealings with SpaceX in favor of several large defense contractors (Thiokol, Lockheed Martin and Boeing) and they have been excluded from several major launch contract RFPs based on questionable requirements

      • All of this is true. I am not attacking actual SpaceX, I'm attacking the libertarian fantasy version of SpaceX where a genius entrepreneur forges a rocket purely with the power of his mind and all the government does is hold him back. This is not an argument of "Well you suck too!" its just a statement that no launch service is entirely independent of government nor likely will be any time soon. I agree that SpaceX seems to be operating a lot better than some of the more well established US launch providers
  • by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Saturday December 13, 2014 @02:21PM (#48589695)
    ... he probably also hopes that other countries around the world will consider buying and using products and services that originate in the EU. Just so long as people in the EU can't shop around. Like he hopes others will do, and wind up spending money in France. I'm trying to think of a better word than "hypocrisy." How do you say "Greenpeace" in French?
    • I'm trying to think of a better word than "hypocrisy.

      "Psychosis". That seems to be pretty much perfect description for condemning someone based on actions you imagined them taking.

    • Don't get your panties in a knot. He's not telling what people in the EU can buy or not. e.g. Eutelsat has bought flights from US companies with no problems. This particular flight is completely different as it is for a satellite partly funded by the French government. So yes they do have a say on what they pay for.

      • Of course they have a say! But what they're trying to say is it's not cool (it's "playing for the other team") to shop around for the best tool for the job because it might be bad for their future marketing efforts and PR.
    • by Yaotzin ( 827566 )

      How do you say "Greenpeace" in French?

      Merde verte.

  • by Karmashock ( 2415832 ) on Saturday December 13, 2014 @02:42PM (#48589801)

    apparently it is okay now to just exclude france from any contract openly.

    Thanks france.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      It's not "now", it was already the case before. Like for the air refueling tanker for the air force a few years ago.
      • It needs to be restated every time it happens so that more people see the hypocrisy and so that when some idiots do not they are dealt with by everyone.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Just to be sure that you understand correctly my previous comment, in the air refuelling bid, it's when the european (mainly French/German) Airbus/EADS did win the contract that the US decided to cancel it and restart it (so that Boeing get a second chance)
          • I am aware of it... Did you think I thought only the french did this or this was the first time something like this had ever happened in the history of the world?

            The point remains... this is how it is.

          • No, it was canceled and restarted because it was awarded wrong based on the stated criteria. Airbus out and out lost the contract based on what was the stated criteria. However, Airbus had other side offerings that was considered but should not have been.
            Had the procurement officer done things correctly, then Boeing NEVER would have had a second chance at it, even had airbus won it.

            This case has nothing in common with the other.
  • by Required Snark ( 1702878 ) on Saturday December 13, 2014 @03:35PM (#48590077)
    When I see the US flag prominently displayed on the Atlas V rocket I wonder why there isn't a Russian flag right below it. The first stage liquid fuel engines are Russian built RD-180's []. Without them the thing would just sit on the pad and go nowhere.

    Yea 'Merica!

Never buy what you do not want because it is cheap; it will be dear to you. -- Thomas Jefferson