Matra Marconi Space was established in 1990 as a joint venture between the space and telecommunication divisions of the Lagardère Group
) and the GEC
group (Marconi Space Systems
). The merged company was announced in December 1989 and was owned 51% by Matra and 49% by GEC-Marconi. It would have annual sales of £300 million, with £8.7 million in assets from Marconi Space Systems and £10.7 million in assets from Matra Espace.
Claude Goumy, the Managing Director of Matra Espace was the first Managing Director. The first deputy Managing Director was Richard Wignall, the former Managing Director of Marconi Space Systems. The space industry was important to France - almost half the budget of the European Space Agency
(ESA) came from the French government.
In July 1995, GEC bought 45% of shares in the National Remote Sensing Centre for the company. Also in July 1995, the company was looking to link up with Aérospatiale
of Toulouse and DASA of Germany
to form a Europe-wide space company. The company would (five years later) link up with DASA.
By 1996, the company was turning over more than £1 billion. In the late 1990s, it developed a partnership with the University of Sheffield
's Sheffield Centre for Earth Observation Science (SCEOS), which researched interferometry
In November 1997, it announced that it would close the Filton site (former BAe Dynamics
) in August 1999, with the planned transfer of 300 of 400 personnel and staff from Bristol to Stevenage. The Filton site specialised in scientific satellites and their computer software; projects included Ulysses
, Hubble Space Telescope
Solar Arrays, Giotto
/ Polar Platform, Solar and Heliospheric Observatory
(SoHO) and the Cluster
spacecraft destroyed in the first flight of Ariane 5
. Over 380 staff left the Company and as a result, MMS lost the ESA prime contract for the Rosetta
spacecraft. British Aerospace regained an interest in the company when it merged with GEC's Marconi Electronic Systems
to form BAE Systems
in November 1999.
Last edited on 22 June 2021, at 05:03
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