News24

Space secrets safe - ESA chief

2011-01-14 22:03

Paris - European space chief Jean-Jacques Dordain said on Friday he was confident European space technology was safe from foreign spies but did not rule out a tightening of protection.

"I don't have any evidence for the unauthorised transfer of technology from the European space industry to other powers," Dordain said in response to a question at a press conference at European Space Agency (ESA) headquarters.

The French car giant Renault has launched legal action alleging industrial espionage after it suspended three top managers suspected of leaking secrets about its new electric cars.

"We have a battery of rules to protect our technology," said Dordain, who is ESA's director-general. "Technology transfer is always possible but it is subject to authorisation by (ESA) member states."

"One should never be complacent about a situation, and it's true, this could be a subject that we can bring up with companies, with member states and probably with the European Commission as well," he added.

ESA has fostered important advances in space technology, including the Ariane 5 rocket, an automated freighter to supply the International Space Station (ISS) and the planned Galileo constellation of navigation satellites.

The French daily Le Figaro has linked China with the purported spying on Renault's electric car programme, a charge angrily denied by Beijing.