France and West Germany have just signed an agreement for the joint development of space satellites for television and communications.
GV PAN AND CU INTERIOR Ariane rocket components assembled and tested in laboratory in France (4 shots)
GV PAN AND TILT SHOT Ariane installed on gantry
CU AND LV Rocket propulsion units and motors being tested (4 shots)
LV PAN Ariane rocket second state on transporter leaving assembly plant
CU PULL BACK TO GV Transporter arriving alongside ship "Carbet" at docks with dockworkers in foreground
LV AND GV PAN Second stage of Ariane rocket on transporter arriving at space centre in French Guiana
SV AND GV Assembled Ariane rocket on gantry ready for launch (2 shots)
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Background: France and West Germany have just signed an agreement for the joint development of space satellites for television and communications. This was one of the results of the latest meetings between President Valery Giscard D'Estain end Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, which ended yesterday (2 October) in Bo???n.
SYNOPSIS: The two countries are the major partners in the production of the European rocket launcher, Ariane. France is contributing ??? two-thirds of the cost; West Germany a fifth; and eight other countries which belong to the European Space Agency are paying five per cent or less each. The main contractor is French: the Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales. The rocket has been assembled in France, and then shipped across the Atlantic in stages to the base in French Guiana from which it is proposed to fire it.
Every component is being tested to the limit to make sure that there is no repetition of the disaster four years ago, when Europe's first joint space venture, the ill-fated Europa booster rocket, blew up and plunged into the sea only minutes after blast-off.
The second stage of the rocket, setting off for the launching site. The first stage was even more of a problem to move, being nearly seven metres (over 20 feet) longer and about four times the weight. It is now all assembled for its first test firing--scheduled for next month.
If all goes well with the test firing programme in French Guiana, it is planned to start commercial launchings of communications satellites in April, 1981. This will mean that Europe will no longer have to rely on the United States to launch its satellites. The international telecommunications organisation, Intelsat, has already placed a firm order for the new rocket--and the European Space Agency is hoping for customers among the Arab countries, Latin America and China as well.