Nicolas Sarkozy visits Safran plant in Vernon

During a trip to the Eure department of France, west of Paris, dedicated to French industry and the future of the space sector, French President Nicolas Sarkozy visited the Safran plant in Vernon on Tuesday, December 14.

This is the plant that builds the liquid rocket engines for Europe's Ariane 5 launcher. Safran CEO Jean-Paul Herteman showed Mr. Sarkozy the new generation rocket engines being assembled, as well as the different steps in machining some of their parts.

Nicolas Sarkozy also participated in a round table discussion in the neighboring community of Saint-Marcel, on the future of the space industry and France's industrial policy. He emphasized that space remains an "absolute strategic priority" in France, and confirmed the allocation of a budget of 250 million euros for a future investment program to study a new launcher. The round table ended with an initial payment of 82.5 million euros, intended to finance preliminary studies for a successor to Ariane 5.