United States Space Force: ULA launch X-37B spaceplane
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Last week, Paris and Berlin signed a new space agreement that will see the pair join up on more launches together. The deal, announced by their respected economy ministers, Bruno Le Maire and Peter Altmaier, “guarantees the financing of the Ariane 6 rocket, cooperation between the two countries on launchers, and also the European preference for satellite launches”. It comes following months of negotiations that saw them hit a wall that could not be overcome at the last Member State meeting in mid-July.
In 2019, the French Space Force Command was created to cover orbital defence and ward off potential threats to infrastructure in space from the likes of China and Russia.
Mr Macron unveiled the plan during Bastille Day celebrations, saying it would help the country “better protect our satellites”.
But the French President’s approach, much like former US President Mr Trump’s, sat uneasily with Germany’s preference for a multilateral approach to military and defence issues.
Thomas Jarzombek, the German government’s coordinator on aerospace, said at the time: “We need a robust answer to the challenges in space but I see this as a job for the European Space Agency and the EU.”
For decades, France has been more interested in a high level of military autonomy than Germany.
France has also shown itself ready to undertake military operations abroad, on its own or with a coalition of allies.
Germany, likely due to its history, has been much more wary of foreign military missions and prefers to operate within established organisations such as NATO, or through the EU.
But that stance appears to have dwindled.
The pair’s recent announcement came just days after Germany established its own space command, too.
The German defence ministry introduced the new branch in a July 13 ceremony at the German Space Situational Awareness Centre in Uedem, located in the country’s North Rhine-Westphalia region.
A statement read: “The military is responding to the increasing significance of space for our state’s ability to function, the prosperity of our population, and the increasing dependency of the armed forces on space-supported data, services and products.”
Since 2009, the German Air Force, or Luftwaffe, has used the centre to monitor space assets, order manoeuvring of systems and recommend evasion routes to commercial satellite operators, according to the German Aerospace Centre.
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But last year, the Air and Space Operations Centre, or ASOC, was inaugurated there in response to NATO’s declaration of space as a new operational domain.
As with NATO, the emphasis for ASOC was more on space as a defensive domain, with the aim of protecting German systems and further investing in space situational awareness, according to the German Institute for International and Security Affairs.
It comes after Mr Trump officially signed off the creation of the world’s first and currently only independent space force in 2019.
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