France in Space #336

Status Report From: Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES)
Posted: Thursday, April 27, 2006


French President Jacques Chirac presented this past Tuesday six new research programs that are to be co-financed by the French government and industrial partners. The new programs were chosen by the recently created Agency for Industrial Innovation (AII) which has roughly 2 billion euros at its disposition that it can distribute in the form of grants or reimbursable loans. One of the six programs chosen by the Steering Committee is an "Unlimited Mobile TV" project to be headed by Alcatel. The goal of the project is to make television available on mobile phones and PDAs throughout entire regions. This type of universal coverage will be possible thanks to a combination of country-wide satellite coverage and terrestrial mobile networks (for coverage in dense cities and interactivity). As project leader, Alcatel federates companies such as Sagem Communications (SAFRAN Group) and Philips, as well as several Small- and Medium- sized Enterprises (SME). French universities and research centers, such as CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research) and INRIA (National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control) will also be involved. Based on an evolution of the DVB-H standard in a unique S-Band frequency range reserved for satellites, the Mobile TV solution will also rely on powerful radio coding know as OFDM (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing) which is well-suited for the next generation of mobile phones. In supporting these initiatives, France hopes to create new business opportunities in France and Europe. [Alcatel 04/25/06, Les Echos 04/26/06]


The Group TV Agri has announced that they will hold a forum entitled "Tech for Food" at next year's International Agricultural Show (Salon d'Agriculture) in Paris; CNES and the foundation F.A.R.M are the forum's first partners. In 2004, in response to a plague of locusts that created an agricultural disaster in the Sahel in Africa, CNES and its subsidiaries CLS and Novacom Services created an early warning system for such threats which it presented it to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The system provides priceless data on weather conditions that can affect the hatching and spread of locusts and also provides satellite-based tracking tools to help nations eradicate the pests and protect food reserves. The "Tech for Food" Forum will present this program and will also explore new avenues of action and how to overcome obstacles. Two other initiatives will also be presented: in Mali, thanks to Action Contre La Faim (Action Against Hunger), satellites are helping Tuareg and Fulani shepherds guide their flocks to more fruitful pastures; and in Senegal, farmers are using their mobile phones to keep track of the price of their crops sold at market. [Républicain de L'Essonne 04/26/06, CNES 03/30/06]


It was announced April 24th that Alcatel Alenia Space has signed a contract with SES AMERICOM (an SES GLOBAL company) to build a new telecommunications satellite. The new AMC-21 satellite will transmit programming to PBS (public Broadcasting Service) affiliated television stations throughout North America (United States and Caribbean regions) beginning in mid-2008. Acting as prime contractor, Alcatel Alenia Space will be in charge of the implementation of the AMC-21 program, the design process, manufacturing, test and delivery of the satellite. They will also be responsible for the Launch and Early Operations Phase (LEOP), In-Orbit Test (IOT) and associated services. Orbital Sciences Corporation, acting as subcontractor, will supply the small sized GEO spacecraft platform, STAR-2. AMC-21 is to be fitted with 24 Ku-band transponders, each 36 MHz in bandwidth and will have an operational life span of sixteen years. [Alcatel 04/24/06]


With sales up 63% over last year, reaching 1.068 billion euros, and a profit of 6.3 million euros, it seems as though Arianespace has definitively turned the corner. The leader in the satellite launch market released its 2005 financial statements and, with that, showed that for the third year in a row it finished in the black. Arianespace's business continues to grow and it sustained its pace of operations last year with five Ariane 5 launches from Kourou, French Guiana and three Soyuz launches carried out by their subsidiary Starsem. The company has one of the busiest backlogs in the business with 40 launches on the books; it has signed four contracts just since the beginning of the year. [La Tribune 04/26/06, Les Echos 04/26/06, Arianespace 04/25/06]


Thanks to savings in overhead and administrative fees, cost reductions at the European spaceport in French Guiana and payment of the final installment on past debts, CNES will have more money in 2006 to spend on future space missions. The agency plans to put this money to use in various scientific or Earth observation missions. In the field of Earth observation, engineers are set to begin studying an air pollution sensor called Sifti and Swimsat, a wave spectrum and sea state experiment. New science missions using CNES' Myriade microsatellite, including the Simbol-X formation-flying X-ray astrophysics laboratory, are also on the list. Other new telecom initiatives under examination include a project to install a telemedicine system onboard the Airbus A380. [Aviation Week 04/24/06]


Metop-A, Europe's polar-orbiting meteorological satellite, left the EADS Astrium's facilities in France and arrived at Baikonur Cosmodrome a board an Antonov An-124 cargo jet last Tuesday April 18th. The satellite's launch is now scheduled for July 17th (it was previously set for June 30th) so that verifications of the Metop ground facilities can be completed, European government officials stated. Metop-A is one of three meteorological satellites to be launched as part of a U.S. – European joint program to supply global weather data from polar low Earth orbit. [Space News 04/24/06]

** 7: IN BRIEF

Cloudy weather once again caused the launch of the Calipso satellite, a joint NASA / CNES mission, to be postponed this morning. A new launch attempt has been scheduled for tomorrow morning, April 27th at 3:02 PDT, when the weather is expected to improve. [CNES 04/26/06, NASA 04/26/06]

Europe's most important contribution to the International Space Station, the Columbus Laboratory, has successfully completed its final integration in Bremen, Germany and will be shipped to Cape Canaveral, Florida at the end of May. The module is expected to be flown to the ISS, a board the Space Shuttle, in the second half of 2007. The Columbus Laboratory has an operational lifespan of ten years and will allow European scientists the opportunity to conduct a vast program of scientific experiments. A special ceremony will be held on May 2nd to celebrate Columbus' completion. Jacques Dordain, ESA's Director General, has invited many key figures from industry, research institutes, space agencies and government institutions. German Chancellor Angela Merkel will be on hand for the event and will be addressing the attendees. Shana Dale, NASA's Deputy Administrator will also be in attendance. [ESA 04/24/06]

France In Space is a weekly synthesis of French space activities based on French press. Its content does not reflect an official position of the French Government or CNES. It is provided by the CNES office and the Office of Science and Technology of the French Embassy in Washington D.C Editors: Jean-Jacques Tortora, Noëlle Miliard, Timothée Verwaerde

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About CNES

"CNES develops and leads national space programmes. The main thrust of its action is to serve France's ambition to sustain a strong space capability and contribute to scientific discovery at the highest levels. CNES is committed to fostering innovative space technologies that meet the current and future needs of society. Most programmes are pursued in cooperation with international partners. CNES also plays a central role in programmes initiated by ESA, the European Space Agency, to which it is a major contributor. It is thus a driving force behind ESA programmes and activities".

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