HC Deb 01 July 1997 vol 297 c97W
Mr. Dalyell

To ask the President of the Board of Trade what discussions she has had with the European Space Agency on the rescue of the Ariane 5 Cluster Mission of June 1996; and if she will make a statement. [4636]

Mr. Battle

[holding answer 30 June 1997]: I took the opportunity of my visit to the Paris air show on 17 June to hold an introductory discussion with the senior management of the European Space Agency. I was very encouraged by the approach being taken by the agency in maintaining excellence in space research and development, while focusing on the competitiveness of European industry and increasing further the value the UK and other member states gain from their investment in ESA. I look forward to working with the new Director General of ESA, Mr. Rodota.

The failure of the first Ariane 5 launch in June 1996 was a severe blow to the European space community and to scientists, many of whom are in the UK, planning to work on data from the four Cluster satellites. I am therefore very pleased that ESA has been able to gain approval for a recovery mission in the year 2000, this time using a Soyuz launch.

ESA and its member states have also made a splendid effort in reorganising their space programmes to cover the cost of the launch failure. The successful launch of Ariane 502, now planned for September, will clearly be of the utmost importance for Europe's space capability.