243. Memorandum From Robert M. Behr of the National Security Council Staff to the the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1 2


  • International Space Cooperation

After reading my recent memorandum (Tab A) on the visit of Minister Lefevre, you asked why we should not guarantee launch services to Europeans in return for their commitment to participate substantially in our post-Apollo space program.

The answer is that we can guarantee such services and have done so. The United States will provide launchings for European payloads by means of the Space Transportation System (space shuttle), or, during the period before the shuttle becomes operable, by space vehicles presently in our inventory.

There are three conditions which qualify our guarantee:

European participation in the post-Apollo program must be “substantial”—that is, a commitment of ten percent or more of the resources required for development of the Space Transportation System (estimated at about $10 billion over a ten year period).
The launch must be for peaceful purposes, and,
It must be consistent with relevant international agreements (e. g. the Outer Space Treaty and the INTELSAT Agreement).

It is this last qualification that has given heartburn to the Europeans. They see in it a possible obstruction to their plans for regional or national telecommunications satellites. The language of the INTELSAT agreement stipulates that members may fly their own satellites if two thirds of the INTELSAT General Assembly finds the candidate system to be both technically compatible with the INTELSAT system and unlikely to do economic harm to the INTELSAT consortium. In the event that the finding of the General Assembly is unfavorable to the petitioners, we have told the Europeans that in those circumstances we could not guarantee them launch services should they choose not to heed the Assembly’s advisory opinion. Our position is not one of denial, but of reservation. We would have to judge each case on its merits. [Page 2] Whether this stand is acceptable to the Europeans remains to be seen.

The U.S. position on post-Apollo cooperation is spelled out in a letter (Tab C) written by Alex Johnson to Minister Lefevre after the latter’s visit here. Secretary Johnson requested that his letter be brought to your attention. I have summarized its contents at Tab B.

The next event in this exercise is a ministerial meeting of the European Space Conference in early November. At that time the Europeans will probably make a formal evaluation of the U.S. position on post-Apollo space cooperation as set forth in Alex Johnson’s letter to Minister Lefevre.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 392, Subject Files, Space Programs, 1970. For Official Use Only. Sent for information. A copy was sent to Sonnenfeldt. Tab A is Document 240. Tab C is Document 242. Tab B was attached but not published.
  2. Behr explained that the United States could guarantee satellite launch services to the Europeans if European participation in the post-Apollo program was substantial, the launch was for peaceful purposes, and it was consistent with the terms of the Intelsat agreement.