The name Matra became familiar to thousands of motor racing fans from the mid-1960s through the 1970s. However, for a long time, only the French knew anything about Matra except for their racing endeavors.
MATRA—Mechanique Aviation Traction—evolved from a company known as CAPRA. This was a rather small, French aeronautical firm that had existed before the war. It became Matra—La Société Anonyme des Engins Matra—in 1941, and its programs diversified considerably in the postwar years, establishing eleven different branches. The branche militaire was responsible for armaments with guided missile systems one of its significant projects. The branche espace was involved in the development of Ariane and Spacelab, branche controle et automatisms worked on satellites, and branche telecommunications made significant advances in telephone systems. Matra was an amazingly diverse group.
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