France in Space #338

Status Report From: Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES)
Posted: Wednesday, May 10, 2006


EADS announced this past Tuesday, May 9th, that as of July 1st it will be merging its launcher and satellite activities into one entity. The new group will now be called EADS Astrium instead of EADS Space. The merger concerns two of the three current subsidiaries of EADS: EADS Space Transportation and EADS Astrium; the third subsidiary, EADS Space Services, will not be affected. Antoine Bouvier, the head of the satellite division, Hervé Charmeau, CEO, and Evert Dudok, President of the launcher division, will all keep their positions as CEO and head of their divisions. EADS Space Transportation is the prime contractor for the Ariane 5 launchers, while EADS Astrium is specialized in satellites. 2005 was a successful year for the company; it reported sales of 2.698 billion euros, up 4% from the year before. [Agence France Presse 05/10/06; La Tribune 05/09/06]


In response to safety concerns raised during the launch preparations for the joint NASA – CNES Calipso mission, CNES and its prime contractor Alcatel Alenia Space has decided to modify some manufacturing techniques for the Proteus satellite platform. Prior to Calipso's launch, NASA had voiced concerns that the hydrazine fuel tanks aboard the Proteus platform may leak and pose a danger to satellite integration teams; this in turn prompted a detailed review of the system by the NASA Engineering and Safety Center (NESC). The review concluded that the CNES design was solid and that Calipso could be cleared for launch. CNES officials defend the soundness of the original design but nevertheless, they have decided, with Alcatel Alenia Space, to weld certain hydrazine tank segments in the future, especially aboard the Jason-2 satellite set to be launched in 2008 aboard a Delta 2 rocket. [Space News 05/08/06]


In wake of the United State's negative response in regards to allowing European participation in the CEV (Crew Exploration Vehicle) program, a Euro-Russian collaboration on a next-generation crew transport vehicle is becoming more of a possibility. European government and industry officials stated recently that their respective governments are likely to approve some initial work on Russia's Clipper program if Russia can provide assurances that a European contribution would include critical vehicle technologies. Some industry officials, Evert Dudok, president of EADS Space Transportation, for one, hope that the prospect of a European alliance with Russia might move the U.S. to reconsider its position on foreign involvement in the CEV program. Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA's Director-General, has stated that he will not collaborate with the Russians just to sway the United States. Initial participation in the Clipper program was turned down by ESA's member states at December's Ministerial meeting however the agency is confident about trying again once more is known about the vehicle's design and mission profile. Most member states want to be sure that Clipper will do more than just fill the five-year gap in transportation after the Shuttle's retirement; they want to know what role it will fill in space exploration. [Space News 05/08/06]


Eutelsat Communications of Paris announced May 4th that it has selected EADS Astrium to build the Hot Bird 9 direct-broadcasting television satellite. The launch of Hot Bird 9 will ensure in-orbit redundancy and security for broadcasting clients as well as increase overall flexibility across Eutelsat's fleet. Hot Bird 9 is based on the Eurostar E3000 platform (which was also used on Hot Bird 8) and carries 64 Ku-band transponders. The satellite has a planned 15-year service life in orbit and is scheduled for launch in the third quarter of 2008. [EADS Astrium 05/04/06; Space News 05/08/06]


Spanish satellite operator Hispasat, owned in part (27.7%) by Eutelsat of Paris, saw its net profit quadruple in 2005 thanks in large part to the success of its satellite Amazonas. The operator's revenues were 99.66 million euros, an 18 % increase over 2004. After just one year in service, Amazonas, launched in August 2005, was 66% occupied. Currently in orbit over Brazil, the satellite has a fuel leak that will reduce its operational lifespan from 15 to 10 years, according to Hispasat. Amazonas has been very successful in Latin America where it delivers broadband satellite services to mainly government-backed rural education in 10 countries. The satellite, built by EADS Astrium at its Toulouse, France facility, is equipped with the Amerhis on-board processing system that allows higher transmission speeds for this type of service. [Space News 05/08/06]


Maxus, the German-Swedish suborbital sounding rocket made its seventh consecutive successful flight May 2nd, lifting off from Sweden's Esrange Space Center. The flight provided twelve minutes of microgravity conditions for the five ESA science experiments that were onboard. The experiments, including biological samples, performed as expected and were returned to their managers for evaluation within 85 minutes of liftoff. Maxus launches are conducted from the Swedish Space Corp.'s (SSC) Esrange facility under a joint venture with EADS Space Transportation, which assembles the rockets. The SSC possesses both Maxus and the smaller Texus rockets for carrying out experiments in low gravity conditions. [Space News 05/08/06]

** 7: IN BRIEF

The next Ariane 5 ECA launch, initially scheduled for May 20th has been pushed back by six days so that a problem with the Vulcain-2 cryogenic engine's turbo-pump can be resolved. The rocket will be launching the Satmex-6 and Thaicom-5 satellites. [Air & Cosmos 05/05/06]

Following the failed launch of the Arabsat 4A satellite by ILS' Proton M launcher, Eutelsat is now considering having its Hot Bird 8 satellite launched via Ariane 5 instead of a Proton M, as initially planned. The Russian fact-finding board has not yet released its conclusions in the Arabsat 4A case. Eutelsat still has an un-used launch contract with Arianespace, originally signed in 2000. The satellite operator wishes to see Hot Bird 8 launched with the Syracuse 3B satellite on a flight scheduled for the beginning of August 2006. [Aéronautique Business 04/27/06]

At last week's ceremony to celebrate the completion of ESA's Columbus Orbital Laboratory, German Chancellor Angela Merkel endorsed a multi-year increase in German space spending and reiterated the government's support for the International Space Station program. At one point during her speech, Merkel turned to NASA Deputy Administrator Shana Dale and stated that Germany appreciated NASA's decision to move Columbus' launch up in the shuttle manifest, stating "if another gap [in the manifest] should develop, we would like to move up further – that would be nice, Mrs. Dale." [Space News 05/08/06]

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 and 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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