CONTINUING disagreement between France and Germany over funding for the Helios 2 and Osiris military- observation satellites is threatening the merger of the Aerospatiale and Daimler-Benz Aerospace (DASA) satellite businesses.

France is preparing to go it alone on the successor to the Helios 1A/1B satellites if Germany does not come up with around 15% of the Fr11.5 billion ($2.6 billion) programme cost.

Spain and Italy, which took part in the Helios 1 programme, have already pulled out of the Helios 2. France has begun pre-development of the satellite, through a team, consisting of the French space agency CNES, Aerospatiale and Matra Marconi Space. A German decision was promised at the end of March, but has still not been forthcoming.

Failure to agree would mean that the proposed strategic merger of the two satellite businesses might not go ahead, since the Helios and Osiris deals were meant to be the first joint programmes to be undertaken. Negotiations have reportedly been frozen since the disagreement occurred.

Source: Flight International