SPACE RESEARCH PROGRAM AT
Technical difficulties aod skyrocketing costs are resultingajor re-evaluation of the multination effort touropean space satellite launching system.
The program is under the auspices of the European Launcher Development Organization (ELDO) which was organized1 by six European countries and udget presently set6 million for it's'five-year program, ELDO now is concentrating onhree-stagethat would be ready forlate The UK,France, and Germany are developing ELDO-A's three rocket stages, Italy the satellite, and Belgium and the Netherlands the system's telemetry and ground guidance equipment. Australia isthe Woomera range facilities for flight tests.
Besides the prestige factor, ELDO members have hopedto assureole in future commercialcommunications. All are participants in the internationalwhich the US' Satellite(COMSAT) is the executiveplans to putystem ln orbit. ELDO members reason that if theyroven launcher by90 they will beetter position touch larger role in what promises to be an enormously profitable operation.
Despite two successful test firings of ELDO-A's first stage, it was apparent by last fall that the program was in trouble technically and financially. Moreover,ould beofeavysatellite into tbe desired high equatorial orbit. This was to be the function of more powerful follow-onit was thought the technical know-how acquired in buildingould makein the next few years.
For reasons not yet clear, the French have apparentlyto bring these'problemsead. When ELDO convened its first fullNcouncil meeting in Paris fromoanuary, the French delegation proposed dropping therogram It further suggested that ELDO concentrate all future efforts on one of the advanced launchers capable of putting the required payload into high orbit. The council turned the. proposal overommittee of experts with orders to report back ln March.
Whatever recommendations the committee comes up with, lt is clear that ELDO will berossroads when its council meets next month. Adoptionore ambitious program such as the French are proposing will mean that member countries will have to allocate funds beyond those presently earmarked for ELDO-A. Even if the money is made available, it is far from
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