Curien, 'father' of Ariane rocket, dies at 80

7th February 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Feb 6 (AFP) - Hubert Curien, the first president of the European Space Agency and "father" of its Ariane rocket died Sunday at the age of 80, his family said.

PARIS, Feb 6 (AFP) - Hubert Curien, the first president of the European Space Agency and "father" of its Ariane rocket died Sunday at the age of 80, his family said.

Curien, who studied mineralogy and discovered a new form of crystallised gallium, moved on to manage research, serving as director of France's National Center for Scientific Research from 1969 to 1973.

In 1976 Curien became director of France's National Center for Space Studies (CNES), and in parallel became the first president of the European Space Agency (ESA) in 1979.

He was instrumental in persuading ESA members to fund the development of the Ariane rockets to give Europe access to space independent of the United States and the then Soviet Union.

He served as France's research minister in the Socialist government of Prime Minister Laurent Fabius in 1984-1986, and was awarded the Legion d'Honneur, France's highest honour.

Fabius called Curien a great researcher and a good friend.

"France has lost one of its finest servants and one of its great spirits," he said.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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