China Launches ITAR-Free Satellite
Space.com reports that China successfully launched an "ITAR-free" telecommunications satellite on July 5th. The Chinasat 6B telecommunication satellite, built by that was built by European-based Thales Alenia Space was launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China's Sichuan Province by a Long March 3B launch vehicle.
The article notes that:
Thales Alenia Space officials say getting around U.S. State Department restrictions - generally referred to as ITAR, or International Traffic in Arms Regulations - with respect to China's rocket adds around six percent to the cost of a telecommunications satellite. That is because these satellites cannot take advantage of U.S. companies whose production lines are active and thus whose unit costs are reduced - in addition to the fact companies producing in U.S. dollars have an advantage over euro-based companies like Thales Alenia Space.
Even so, they said they have no intention of moving toward what they refer to as a fully "ITAR-free" product line. Such a move would help reduce the cost of ITAR-free satellites by increasing the production volume, but would run the risk of not being able to keep up with market demand because ITAR-free satellites rely on a supply chain that would have difficulty increasing throughput in the short term . . .