France in Space #367

Status Report From: Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES)
Posted: Wednesday, January 17, 2007


ESA members and other main stakeholder groups met in Edinburgh, Scotland, early last week to begin shaping the future direction of European space exploration. The meeting, hosted by ESA and the British National Space Centre (BNSC), came at an opportune moment just as other space-faring nations are also setting their ambitions. The outcome of this series of stakeholder consultation workshops will aid Europe in forming and focusing its space exploration plans and in defining how these plans might integrate with global space activities. They will also set the scene for key decisions to be taken at the ESA Council meeting at the Ministerial level to be held in 2008. The workshop was also an occasion to discuss the latest status of ongoing space exploration studies and proposals at National level, especially from such countries as Italy, U.K. and Germany and to listen to the views of the various participants 170 people attended the first meeting, representing Europe, as well as the U.S., Japan, Ukraine and Canada. This series of consultations will continue throughout 2007 and into 2008. [ESA 01/10/07]


GIOVE-A, the first satellite in ESA’s in-orbit validation program for Galileo, celebrated an important milestone on January 12th, 2007, marking one year of signal transmission. Launched on December 28th, 2005, via a Soyuz launch vehicle from Baikonur Cosmodrome, GIOVE-A deployed its solar arrays, validated its systems and began sending back signals shortly after. The signal transmission has secured the use of the frequencies allocated to the Galileo system thus achieving its primary mission. GIOVE-A has continuously broadcast its signal in order to fulfill a number of other important objectives of the mission including the verification of critical technologies such as the on-board Rubidium Atomic Frequency Standard (RAFS) clocks, the characterization of the innovative features of the Galileo signal design and the characterization of the radiation environment of the Medium Earth Orbit planned for the Galileo constellation. In order to complete the in-orbit validation portion of the Galileo program, ESA has already deployed the GIOVE Mission Segment, made up of a network of 13 monitoring stations located around the world and a GIOVE Processing Center at ESA’s European Space Research and Technology Center (ESTEC). At present, the Center receives measurements from GIOVE-A and will receive data from GIOVE-B once it is launched in 2007. Concurrently with GIOVE-A’s anniversary, ESA also launched a new website detailing the GIOVE-A mission and its status; it can be found at [ESA 01/12/07, 01/17/07]


ESA, in collaboration with Alcatel Alenia Space, will present the Planck satellite and telescope, the ESA spacecraft due to study relic radiation from the Big Bang, during a press conference in Cannes, France on February 1st. The press conference will be an opportunity to present the mission’s technological achievements and scientific objectives and to view the completed spacecraft. Planck, built by prime contractor Alcatel Alenia Space, will plot the most accurate maps yet of the microwave background radiation that fills space. The spacecraft will be sensitive to temperature variations of a few millionths of a degree and will map the full sky in nine wavelengths. The primary objectives of this mission are to study the immediate outcome of the Big Bang and the initial conditions for the evolution in the universe’s structure. The data obtained should help scientists and astronomers to better understand the nature and amount of dark matter in the universe, as well as the nature of dark energy and the expansion of the universe. Planck is currently completing its integration, after which it will start another series of tests. It is scheduled for launch by the end of July 2008 in a dual-launch configuration with Herschel, ESA’s mission to study the formation of galaxies, stars and planetary systems in infrared. [ESA 01/16/07]


ESA has awarded Starchaser Industries of Great Britain a study contract for the detailed assessment of their Thunderstar / Starchaser 5A space tourism reusable launch vehicle in order to verify its technical viability and ability to meet future space tourism demands. Part of ESA’s Survey of European Privately Funded Vehicles for Commercial Human Space Flight, the 150,000 euro contract was designed to identify European space tourism ventures, evaluate their feasibility and assess their associated technologies. The reusable Thunderstar / Starchaser 5A space tourism vehicle, which could begin flight from New Mexico as early as 2009, will be able to carry one pilot and two passengers to sub-orbital altitudes in excess of 100 kilometers before returning them to Earth via parachute. [Starchaser Industries 01/12/07]


Astrium, a division of EADS Space, recorded sales of 3.2 billion euros in 2006 and foresee growth of roughly 10% for 2007. The 2006 figures, compared to the less then 2.8 billion euro sales in 2005 indicate very strong growth for the company. Astrium’s operating margin rose to 4% in 2006, or double what it was in 2005, and according to François Auque, CEO of Astrium, the company is aiming for 6% in 2008. Last year, Astrium received orders for a total of 4.3 billion euros, of which satellite sales accounted for 2 billion. The company’s backlog, which according to Auque has never been so high, is worth an estimated 12 billion euros.

And Alcatel Alenia Space, with its several contracts awarded in 2006, namely by Globalstar, has proven to be the European leader in satellite systems and has placed itself at the forefront of orbit infrastructures. [Agence France Presse 01/10/07, Alcatel Alenia ]

** 6: IN BRIEF

Jean-Yves Le Gall, CEO of Arianespace, has stated that the launch service provider is banking on eight launches in 2008. Arianespace’s 2005 and 2006 financial results and its backlog of 40 satellites support this claim. In 2006 the company recorded sales of just under 1 billion euros. [L’ 01/12/07, France Guyane 01/11/07]


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

France In Space is available online at There you will find the current issue, subscription and un-subscription forms, as well as the archives with a search engine.

To subscribe/unsubscribe, please go to


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".

List-france-in-space mailing list

// end //

More status reports and news releases or top stories.

Please follow SpaceRef on Twitter and Like us on Facebook.