250. Telegram 237 From the Embassy in Belgium to the Department of State1 2

Paris pass NASA


  • Post-Apollo: Lefevre Letter to Under Secretary


  • Brussels 160, State 10786 (Notal)

1. Minister Lefevre’s office asked Embassy to transmit his reply to Under Secretary’s letter of October 1970 telegraphically. Letter generally in line with what Van Eesbeek told us earlier (Brussels 160). Translation, done in Lefevre’s office, follows para 2. Original letter in French being sent under cover airgram.

[Page 2]


January 21, 1971

Dear Mr. Secretary,

I wish to renew my thanks for the cordial welcome you gave in Washington to the European delegation which I led, and for your letter of 2 October 1970 which gives a summary of our talks and defines your government’s position on certain points. I circulated the text of your letter to my fellow-members of the European Space Conference and reported to them on my mission during the meeting we held in Brussels on 4 November 1970.

The conference expressed its unanimous satisfaction with the prospects that followed our first talks, which are indeed encouraging prospects for Europe and expressed its appreciation of the understanding you showed with regard to the matters that are certain to the European countries.

A certain number of countries, namely Belgium, France, the Federal Republic of Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland have asked that talks in greater depth be held with your government, and they have made it clear that they cannot take final decisions on European participation in the post-Apollo programme and on the financial commitments resulting therefrom until after such talks.

The United Kingdom also intends to participate in the talks insofar as availability of launchers is concerned but act as observers on the question of participation in the post-Apollo programme.

In reply to the proposals contained in Mr. G. M. Low’s message of 28 December 1970 regarding the subsequent conduct of the discussions, the governments of the above-mentioned countries have agreed that there could be immediate exchanges of views, and contacts in depth, at the technical level.

To that effect, a team of European experts led by Mr. Causse and Mr. Dinkespiler assisted by experts from the member countries, shall be enabled to take the necessary contacts at all levels with NASA and American business firms in order to prepare [Page 3] the technical report to be submitted to the member countries of the ESC.

As I had the opportunity to tell Mr. Frutkin when he visited Brussels on the 17 December 1970, the European countries concerned consider that if you could provide clarification on these points to the European delegation during its forthcoming visit it would expedite the process of formulation of the European cooperation proposals. (Embassy comment—This paragraph is confusing. We interpret paragraph and the following paragraphs to refer to the discussion of the “six questions” which come later and not to the expert discussions mentioned in the previous paragraph. We are seeking clarification on this. End Embassy comment).

I am most keen that this exchange of views on these questions of a general nature should take place very soon, with the object of completing the information available to our respective governments and thereby reinforcing our solidarity and the spirit of cooperation that will have to permeate an undertaking whose importance and significance for the future, on the political plane as well as on the scientific and technological plane we fully recognise.

It is the view of all European countries who are interested in a possible cooperation with the United States that it should be looked upon as a joint venture undertaken by the United States and Europe for the mutual benefit of both parties, as indicated in the Space Task Group report and as underlined on the occasion of the first contacts between the Americans and the Europeans on this subject.

The European countries wish, in particular, to obtain additional information on the following points:

Aside from the launchings that the United States would provide from its own territory, the European countries wish to have the possibility of buying launchers from the United States for launching from non-American ranges. They would, of course, undertake to use launchers in conformity with the agreement to be concluded with the United States, but without the purchase of such launchers being submitted on international procedure. (French text: sans que l’achat de ces subordonne a des procedures internationales).
The question of access on commercial basis to American fabrication licences for peaceful uses should be covered by the cooperation agreement.

On the technical plane, Europe wishes to have access for peaceful uses, to all the technology developed within the framework [Page 5] of the post-Apollo programme, and not just to that part of it which is necessary for executing the tasks entrusted to Europe. The use of this information for commercial purposes would only be authorized within the framework of the cooperation projects.

The right to use outside such projects could be the subject of conventional commercial agreements in accordance with the usual rules.

It should also be specified that the new transportation systems to be jointly developed will be made available without restriction to each of the partners for peaceful uses.
The modalities of the cooperation, on the political as well as the technical plane, should also be determined on a partnership basis.
Lastly, there should be clearer definition of the limits of the financial commitment framework within which the participation of the European countries might be organised.

These various questions could be usefully discussed in the course of a further meeting, which I should like to see arranged very soon. I suggest that it might start on 10 February 1971, and I very much hope that this date will meet your agreement.

I look forward to meeting you and your collaborators again, and I hope, as do all of us in Europe, that we shall be able to achieve positive results.

With kindest regards,

Th. Lefevre.

3. Re: Dates for meetings, Lefevre letter written before State 10786 received. Dr. Spaey informs Embassy that February 11 is acceptable for plenary meeting with Under Secretary.

4. Re: Invitations for Apollo 14 launching, while Lefevre and Spaey will not attend, Embassy believes important that invitations be sent to them ASAP.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, SP 10 US. Limited Official Use. Repeated to Rome, Bonn, Bern, Copenhagen, The Hague, London, Madrid, Oslo, Ottawa, Paris, Stockholm, Tokyo, Canberra, and the U.S. Mission Geneva.
  2. The Embassy transmitted the text of a letter from ESC Chairman Lefevre explaining the official European positions on participation in a post-Apollo space program.