Futuribles Journal n° 248

Géopolitique - Recherche, sciences, techniques

Où va l'espace ?


The arrival of a new world order requires a rethinking of policy towards space, with regard to both its aims and the means allocated to pursuing them.
In fact, Pierre Bonnaure argues, an entirely new strategy needs to be devised, no longer based on the requirements of a bipolar world, but instead on globalization, with all its inherent connotations for new types of co-operation, new alliances and cut-throat commercial competition. This new strategy needs to take account of budgetary and commercial realities: as private industry takes over the responsibilities of the state - unable to afford the vast sums spent in the past on the space race, which has now lost its military significance - the criterion for launching new projects in the future will be their profitability. Consequently, the least-profitable ambitions, such as exploring distant parts of the galaxy, will be abandoned in favour of more lucrative propositions, mainly linked to developing communications satellites. This means that the emphasis is now much less on research and development, or on prestige programmes that have no commercial potential, and much more on cost-cutting.
To hold its own in the market without giving up the technological innovation that is essential to remaining competitive - that, in Pierre Bonnaure's view, is the challenge now facing Arianespace if Europe, doubly handicapped by the lack of a common defence policy and a space budget ten-times smaller than that of the United States, is to play a full part in the conquest of space.

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