Spaced out

Published: Friday 30 June 1995

French space programme: going< IN A French government report on the space sciences, strong recommendations have been made to the authorities to move away from the European Space Agency (ESA) partners who are allegedly holding "enterprising French scientists" back with their feet-dragging tactics when it comes to coughing up funds for research. The report is by Francois Fillon, minister for research and higher education in the erstwhile Edouard Balladur regime, who, of course, has lost his job now that Jacques Chirac has taken over the reins of power.

But the concerns expressed in it still hold true. Fillon has urged the government to develop a crew rescue vehicle for the international space station Alpha, with Russian cooperation. The proposal has come as a body blow to the ESA, as France's National Centre for Space Studies is already planning to cut back on its contributions to it. Chirac could, of course, set a new agenda all by himself.

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