HC Deb 23 February 1977 vol 926 cc632-3W
Mrs. Hayman

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what was the outcome of the recent meeting of the Council of the European Space Agency; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Kaufman

The meeting of the Council of the European Space Agency on 14th-15th February 1977, at which I led the United Kingdom delegation, was the first to be held at ministerial level since the Agency was set up in May 1975.

For the United Kingdom the most important outcome was Council's declaration that it intended to build a second Marots (maritime communications) satellite to follow on the first which is to be launched in late 1978. The prospects for Marots, in which the United Kingdom has the majority industrial interest, are bright. The European telecommunications authorities, including the British Post Office, are currently considering a proposal to provide a commercial service over the Indian Ocean using the two Marots satellites, and there are hopes that Marots-type satellites will be selected for a global maritime communications system in the early 1980s.

The Council also declared its intention to develop satellites for a European regional communications system in the early 1980s, and also to develop a larger communications satellite for which a market is expected to emerge in the late 1980s. A provisional decision was made to set up a European network of ground stations capable of receiving data from earth observation satellites; and it was also agreed that studies should be undertaken of a possible European earth observation satellite and of the production of a small batch of Ariane launcher rockets, supported by the participating countries.

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