French regions, conquering space

To face the global competition of tomorrow, Europe must change gear in space, otherwise it will be overtaken, writes Alain Rousset.

Alain Rousset is President of the Regional Council of Nouvelle-Aquitaine.

The general public is not necessarily aware of this: space is already very present in our daily lives: to help us get around, to observe and deal with climate change, to accelerate the agro-ecological transition, telecommunications, bringing the Internet to remote areas or even in La Défense, satellites have become essential. Tomorrow, they will be even more so with the “New space” which lowers the cost of access to Space and increases the potential for activities.

Major Nations, but now also private companies are embarking on a frantic race to conquer space for one major reason: the space market is set to triple by 2030. For its sovereignty, Europe cannot not miss this turn and be left behind by players such as SpaceX and its reusable launcher, abundantly supported by NASA and the American government. The increasingly unstable global geopolitical context strengthens me in this conviction.

Our sovereignty presupposes having a strong political will, a unity within the European Union to support our launchers, but also to advance on a European constellation of satellites. In low orbit, the challenge is major to remain independent in telecoms, defence, energy and agricultural transition…

So let’s dare to invest massively, take the risk of betting on breakthrough technology projects, hand in hand with our German and Italian neighbours. By relying on the operators who have made space Europe a success for 60 years, such as ArianeGroup, and the innovations brought by all the players in the sector on the continent.

The European Space Agency has already invested in more than 500 start-ups, but these young shoots cannot take off without the public authorities, in particular the Regions, which finance numerous projects, nor without a dedicated strategy to give them the capital necessary for their deployment to become world leaders.

Let’s follow the example of Airbus, which has made Europe a springboard by optimizing its industrial facilities across the continent to become the world leader in its sector. Ariane 6 integrates the best European innovations thanks to more than 600 partner companies and attracts the best engineers in the world in the 13 participating Member States in Europe.

In this great orchestra, regions such as New Aquitaine hold a strategic place. Around ArianeGroup, more than 300 suppliers and 90 companies innovate every day for a safer, more responsible space capable of providing Europeans with essential services at a reasonable price. Thus, Olikrom or Composite Adour have participated, with other SMEs and SMIs, in making our region a leading territory in solid propulsion and composite materials.

The industrial strategy deployed by the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region, where ArianeGroup has 40% of its French workforce, illustrates how space is being built in Europe by and for the territories. It is at this scale that we can better identify the skills and needs to develop sectors of excellence in connection with the local industrial environment, thanks to partnerships with the academic and scientific world or the Aerospace competitiveness cluster. Valley.

All these initiatives have made it possible to make progress on the challenges ahead in the sector, in particular the eco-responsibility of space and to develop new recycling channels for pyrotechnic waste with unique patents in the world, aimed at implementing new composite biomaterials in the fuselage of launchers.

These are essential bricks to meet the challenge of the future family of eco-responsible European launchers already embodied by the Maia mini-launcher project or the reusable upper stage demonstrator called Susie.

To compete tomorrow with global competition, Europe must change gear on space, at the risk of being downgraded. Our sovereignty in many strategic sectors depends on it. Let’s rediscover the audacity of the saga of the Diamant launcher and the first satellite, Asterix, 60 years ago.

French regions, conquering space