Arianespace SA is the world's first commercial space transportation company, founded in France in 1980 and the company was in a giving mood this week as it presented a unique gift to Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, a member of the Doobie Brothers band and a guitarist for Steely Dan as part of its 30th anniversary celebrations.
Baxter has become a recognised expert in matters of missile defence, anti-terrorism and intelligence, but it was a reference back to his playing days which the company though appropriate: a one-of-a-kind guitar, made from part of an Ariane 5 rocket.
This guitar was made by Frenchman James Trussart, a long-time California resident, who has produced other musical instruments for the likes of Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton and Keith Richards.
The Arianespace-commissioned guitar was tooled by craftsmen in Paris who previously made parts for the Concorde supersonic jetliner.
"The decade that saw the rise of Jeff Baxter also saw the rise of the Ariane program," Arianespace Chairman and CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall said. "In 1979, the same year that the Doobie Brother's 'Minute by Minute' reached the top of the charts, we counted down the minutes, consulted our charts and launched the first Ariane rocket out of French Guiana."
"At the time, some critics thought the Ariane program - the world's first commercial launch services company - was, to quote [Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan singer] Michael McDonald, 'What a fool believes,'" Le Gall added.
"Today we are the most successful launch services company in existence. And today we salute our customers who, with good reason, believe in our product and our services. We look forward to serving you in the decades to come."
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