ESA discusses about Ariane’s future

Updated 21 November 2012
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ESA discusses about Ariane’s future

NAPLES, Italy: The future of Europe’s space program came under the spotlight in this southern Italian city yesterday, where ministers discussed rival plans for a successor to the successful Ariane 5 launcher. The 20-nation European Space Agency (ESA), meeting at ministerial level for the first time in four years, is staging two days of budget talks.
The meeting takes place against a backdrop of money worries, a fast-shifting satellite market and the growing strength of the US private sector in near-Earth space.
“This council (meeting) is crucial to sustain autonomous European access to Space...” France’s Research Minister Genevieve Fioraso said in a speech prepared for the opening and sent to AFP.
In an interview with AFP last week, ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain said he hoped members would back a three-year budget of 12 billion euros ($ 15 billion) but added he would be happy with “something around 10 billion euros.”
It would mean a roughly stable budget compared with current levels, he said.
One of the most crucial agenda items was deciding on a future generation of rocket launcher to replace the ageing Ariane 5.
The new rocket should provide more flexible launch options for the swiftly-changing satellite market.
France is pushing for a smaller, sleeker Ariane 6 launcher system, which would require about four billion euros, culminating in a maiden flight in 2021 if all goes well.
Germany wants a less ambitious option, an Ariane 5 ME (for “Midlife Evolution”), which would be readier sooner at a putative cost of two billion euros.
Weighing on many minds is not just belt-tightening but also the rise of the US private sector.
Last month, the US firm SpaceX sent an unmanned freighter, Dragon, to the International Space Station under a NASA initiative to delegate resupply missions to private corporations after the phaseout of the US space shuttle.


Turkish lira hits record low, down 20 pct against dollar this year

Updated 45 min 4 sec ago
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Turkish lira hits record low, down 20 pct against dollar this year

ISTANBUL: The Turkish lira tumbled more than 5 percent on Wednesday before recovering some ground, the latest drop in a sell-off that reflects growing investor alarm over the direction of monetary policy under President Tayyip Erdogan.
The decline, exacerbated by stop-loss selling by Japanese retail investors overnight, brings the lira’s losses to more than 20 percent so far this year and puts it on track for its worst monthly performance since the 2008 financial crisis.
The sell-off has also increased expectations that the central bank may be forced to call an extraordinary meeting to raise interest rates before its next scheduled policy-setting meeting on June 7, as it has done in previous years.
“We expect the MPC to hold an interim meeting over the coming days to raise interest rates by at least 200bp,” Jason Tuvey of Capital Economics said in a note to clients.
“If policymakers refrain from tightening monetary policy, the risk of a disorderly adjustment and a sharp economic downturn (possibly recession) will mount.”
The lira was at 4.8500 at 0855 GMT from its close of 4.6746 on Tuesday. It earlier touched a record low of 4.9290. It also fell against the Japanese yen, amid talk Japanese retail investors were selling the lira as it hit stop-loss levels.
“We are bearish on the lira and always have been given its very weak external balances and with macroeconomic policy moving in the wrong direction as well,” said Kiran Kowshik, emerging markets forex strategist at UniCredit.
A self-described “enemy of interest rates,” Erdogan wants borrowing costs lowered to spur credit growth and construction, and he said last week he would seek greater control over monetary policy after elections set for June 24.
Economy officials told Reuters the government’s economic management team met at the start of this week to discuss potential measures, including possible steps by the central bank. Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek and Central Bank Governor Murat Cetinkaya attended the meeting.
Ratings agencies sounded alarm about monetary policy. S&P Global senior sovereign analyst Frank Gill told Reuters government finances could deteriorate rapidly if authorities failed to stem pressure on the currency and government borrowing costs .
Investors want to see decisive rate increases to rein in double-digit inflation, and Erdogan’s comments have reinforced long-standing worries about the central bank’s ability to do that.
Borsa Istanbul Group, the Istanbul stock exchange company, said in a statement on Wednesday it had converted its foreign currency assets into lira, aside from its short-term needs, in a step to support the Turkish currency.
The lira’s weakness was exacerbated by dollar gains against a basket of currencies, with investors awaiting the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s last policy meeting for hints on the pace of monetary tightening.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year bond rose to 15.30 percent at the opening from a last trade of 14.92 percent on Tuesday.
The main BIST 100 share index fell 0.22 percent to 103,105 points on Tuesday.