POLITICS & INSTITUTIONS - ECONOMY

Lux satellite maker's nuclear weapons background



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GovSat-1, which was built by Orbital ATK, is pictured at its launch aboard a SpaceX rocket on 31 January 2018 at Cape CanaveralPhoto: SpaceX/Instagram 

The Luxembourg government satellite did not break rules on socially responsible investments by commissioning a blacklisted firm to build satellite GovSat-1.

The satellite, which was launched on 31 January 2018, was commissioned by LuxGovSat, a public-private initiative between the Luxembourg government and satellite operators SES, based in Betzdorf.

It was constructed by Orbital ATK, an American defence manufacturer, which is excluded from the Luxembourg Fonds de Compensation, which manages investments for the state pension system. The FDC exclusion list filters out companies that break international environmental, labour and other rules.

Responding to a parliamentary question from MP Marc Baum, an official replying for defence minister Etienne Schneider wrote:

“Orbital ATK is on the FDC exclusion list because of its branch in nuclear weapons and not for its activities in aerospace, for which GovSat-1 was commissioned. What is more, the ordering of a satellite is not an investment strategy with a view to gain a financial return like that covered by the FDC criteria and therefore does not need to be part of a socially sustainable investment framework.”

Orbital ATK was selected after a call for projects by LuxGovSat. GovSat-1 aims to provide secure, reliable and accessible government satellite communication services for defence and national security operations. It serves missions using the x and Ka military bands. The satellite cost €225m (€50m from SES and the government each and a €125m loan).