Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister François Bausch traveled to California between the 19th and the 22nd of November 2021 to meet with representatives of the US Space Force and space companies.
DPM Bausch met, among others, Lt. Gen. Mike Guetlein, commander of the Space Systems Command of the US Space Force. DPM Bausch and Lt. Gen Guetlein discussed the cooperation between Luxembourg and the United States in the field of defense and more particularly in the field of space exploration. Luxembourg and the United States have enjoyed a long-standing close relationship and current cooperation projects cover different areas. Partnership opportunities mainly in the field of satellite communications, but also in other fields such as space observation of the Earth and Space Situational Awareness, were also discussed.
The Minister also visited the production site of Virgin Orbit's LauncherOne system. Virgin Orbit is specialized in, notably, launching of small satellites from a Boeing 747 plane. The advantage lies in particular in the flexibility of such a launch, which can be done from any airport capable of accommodating this type of aircraft. The satellite no longer needs to be transported to a launch base, but the launcher moves to where the satellite is located instead. In addition, this type of launch requires much less preparation and only 10% of the energy used in a conventional launch, which is a real benefit for the environment.
François Bausch then visited the Boeing facilities at El Secundo, where the satellites of the future O3b mPower constellation of SES are being built.
Finally, DPM Bausch met with Space X officials and toured the company’s rocket assembly plant. Space X is not only the historical partner of SES for the launch of their satellites, but also the launcher of the first GOVSAT-1 satellite, a joint venture between Luxembourg and SES, which was put into orbit in January 2018.