Most people in the US have not heard about the “Clearstream” scandal that’s currently rocking French politics; I admit I had not until last week, although the controversy has been brewing for weeks. In an article in this week’s issue of The Space Review, Taylor Dinerman provides a capsule summary of the scandal and its ties to the French aerospace industry: one of the key figures was, until recently, a vice president of EADS. Dinerman believes that EADS will get caught up in the controversy, which could have repercussions for launch services provider Arianespace and satellite manufacturer Astrium, as companies and governments outside France may be prompted to review their dealings with EADS “if only to insure that they are not being manipulated for interior French political purposes.” This comes at a time when the European aerospace industry had been performing well, yet “the Clearstream scandal looks to be yet another obstacle to France’s ambitions to make the EU into a first-rate space power.”
A couple other policy-related articles of note in this week’s issue:
- Christopher Stone makes the case for space-based weapons—not for use against satellites but against terrestrial targets. Given the squeamishness many have towards putting weapons of any kind in space, this proposal is not likely to go anywhere in the foreseeable future, but it’s an interesting argument.
- Eric Hedman examines why NASA appears unwilling to take major risks, noting the lack of new technology in the current implementation of the Vision for Space Exploration. (Some, of course, have argued that the lack of new technology is a positive, not negative, attribute of the VSE.) He hopes that the COTS program is a sign NASA is willing to take some risks to try and gain “a revolutionary approach to orbital access”.