U.S. Export Restrictions Push Europeans to Rely on Own Technology

esa_logoQuality Control, Transparency Push ESA to ITAR-Free Products
Space News

The European Space Agency (ESA) is gradually moving toward an ITAR-free posture for sensitive satellite components for reasons having as much to do with quality control as with the larger goal of achieving autonomy in space technologies, ESA and European industry officials said.

ITAR, or the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, is a suite of restrictions the United States imposes on technology exports that includes most satellite components. Even when these components are approved for export — such as to U.S. allies in Europe — they cannot be examined in ways that permit quality-assurance oversight that ESA is taking on as one of its duties.

“With ITAR, it’s the black-box theory,” said Jack Bosma, head of ESA’s quality department. “You have no access to what is in there. You cannot open it or look at it. ESA is not allowed to open those components.”

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