LA PLATA, Maryland — “Panicked” is too strong a word, but a visibly disquieted French space sector met March 28 to assess where it stood in the global competition and concluded that what used to true only of launch services is now true for satellite telecommunications: France, and thus Europe, is falling perilously behind.

Even discounting for the usual French pessimism, the “Space Perspectives” conference organized by the French aerospace industries association, GIFAS, and by Euroconsult was notable for the number of statements suggesting that the house is . . .

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