French space agency CNES has called for greater integration of the European space industry if it is to compete successfully with the USA.

The agency also wants to see an accelerated re-organisation of government-run research centres "-to construct a European technology community" that can keep Europe competitive with the USA on innovations in space.

Cnes president Alain Bensoussan says that European research on space technology is still not harmonised. He wants the European Space Agency (ESA) to launch a major initiative to create an "integrated network" of technology centres, and asks that the agency should move forward from its role of programme manager, to a "catalyser of initiatives".

France is the biggest contributor to the ESA budget, its Fr4.3 billion ($741.4 million) payment for 1999 amounting to 29% of the total provided by the 16 nations involved and, as such, has a powerful voice in forging the agency's strategy.

Plans are afoot for more efficient management of the CNES, centring on specialisation into defined areas of responsibility of its three centres at Evry (near Paris), Guyana and Toulouse. Evry will take care of launchers and future technologies, Guyana will handle launching and base management and Toulouse will be responsible for all other space activities.

Source: Flight International