Off course

Recall this AFOE post on the industrial politics of the abandoned BAE-EADS deal? Here’s an object lesson, from the Galileo navigation satellite system. The French were hugely keen on the project for political-military reasons and because they knew how to build it; the Germans wouldn’t pay into it unless they got to learn. Unfortunately they had a lot to learn and now the project is a mess and Thales is sending herds of engineers to Germany to fix the satellite. If we’re unlucky, the answer might be to smush the EADS Astrium and Thales-Alenia Space satellite operations together, which might leave us without the pretty impressive Italian and UK satellite industries but with the German company that just demonstrated it wasn’t much cop.