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Time to share cost of space launches, French auditors say

The cost of launching space missions needs to be more equitably spread across Europe, instead of allowing France to carry the burden, the country’s court of auditors, the Cour des Comptes, has said.

In a report originally sent to Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault in January, and published on 4 April, the Cour des Comptes says France pays around 80 per cent of the costs associated with launching space missions from its base in French Guiana. But all of Europe benefits, and the court says it may be time to call on other members of the European Space Agency to pay a greater share.

France’s Ariane 5 launch systems are having to compete with others around the world, the court says. And as Ariane 5 is not properly adapted to the needs of European missions, Russia’s Soyuz launch systems are being used more and more, to the detriment of Europe’s independence in space launches.

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