France in Space #382

Status Report From: Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES)
Posted: Monday, June 18, 2007


The first of four medium-sized satellites that will eventually make up the COSMO-SkyMed constellation was successfully launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base on June 8th. COSMO-Skymed, currently being built by Thales Alenia Space, is the Italian dual-use satellite system dedicated to Earth observation, developed under an agreement between the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and the Italian Ministry of Defense. The satellite system will take images of the Earth using an X-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar at the request of institutional or commercial users, including members of the defense, civil and scientific communities. COSMO-Skymed is the Italian contribution to the Franco-Italian Inter-Governmental Agreement on Dual-Use Earth Observation. France?s Pleiades satellites, built by EADS Astrium, will contribute to European defense cooperation as its data will be exchanged with future radar data of both the SARE-Lupe (Germany) and COSMO-SKYMED systems. [Le Figaro 06/09/07, 06/08/07, 06/08/07]


Astrium Satellites has been awarded a contract to design and build the Amazonas-2 satellite for Hispasat. The new satellite, based on a Eurostar E3000 platform and equipped with 64 transponders (54 Ku-band and 10 C-band), will provide a full range of telecommunications services to both North and South America and will allow Hispasat to respond to the growing market demand in this region, especially in Brazil. Amazonas-2 will operate from 61 degrees west longitude in a slot currently occupied by the Astrium-built Amazonas satellite launched in 2004; the satellite is suffering from a slow fuel leak that will force it into early retirement before 2014 (its expected lifespan was to last until 2019). Amazonas-2 is scheduled for launch in 2009. [EADS Astrium 06/06/07, Space News 06/11/07]


Toulouse, France will soon welcome a new control center which will support and play a role in the analysis of the data from NASA?s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL-09). The center will handle over 200 measurements per day for 700 days. The MSL-09 rover, carried out in collaboration with CNES, is scheduled for launch sometime between September 15th and October 4th, 2009. The rover will carry two essential European developed instruments on board, SAM, an instrument suite for the in-situ analysis of Martian soil, and CHEMCAM, a chemical analysis camera for the study of rocks and soils. CHEMCAM, which incorporates a powerful laser (manufactured by Thales France), is capable of atomizing rocks from 9 meters away. The resulting dust cloud is then analyzed in the ultraviolet and visible spectrum to determine the nature of the rock. CHEMCAM was developed by CNES, in partnership with Thales and the Center for Studies on Space Radiation (CESR). [La Dépêche du Midi 06/08/07, Agence France Presse 06/08/07]


The European Union has elected to wait until October to decide how it plans on financing the Galileo project. E.U. Transport Ministers decided June 8th that they will take three months to study the more detailed options as to how to save Galileo which were presented to the Commission on May 16th of this year. After careful consideration of these options, the Transport Council will meet in October to rule on how the 2.4 billion euros needed to complete the Galileo infrastructure by the end of 2012 will be financed and how competences will be divided between the public and private sectors. The Commission has voiced its desire for a full public-sector financing of the European satellite navigation system and has indicated that the extra funds needed could be found in the E.U. budget. The European Parliament and the EU-27 favor this option; nevertheless Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom would prefer to see individual states provide extra funds to ESA, which in turn could finance and manage the project. [Le Monde 06/11/07, 20 Minutes Toulouse 06/12/07, 06/13/07]


EADS Astrium, the Space activities subsidiary of EADS, has decided to enter the space tourism industry with a parabolic flight project which would fly to heights of 100 km. EADS Astrium presented its project this week at a reception on June 13th in Paris, France. According to one source, the project stems from an old German project from EADS which has been completely overhauled by François Auque, CEO of EADS Astrium, who considers the project commercially feasible. The project calls for the use of a business jet-sized vehicle, capable of carrying four passengers, and which could take off and land from any standard airport. The vehicle?s initially source of propulsion would be jet engine but rocket engines would be ignited at about 100 km in order for the vehicle to reach the 100 km mark. The ticket price per flight per passenger is expected to be approximately 150,000 to 200,000 euros. [EADS 06/13/07, Agence France Presse 06/07/07]

** 6: IN BRIEF

The 47th edition of the Paris Air Show at Le Bourget is set to open Monday, June 18th and will run until the 24th. This year, organizers are expecting 2000 exhibitors and over 400,000 visitors. French Prime Minister François Fillon will officially open the Air Show on Monday and newly elected President Nicolas Sarkozy will visit on Saturday. Besides thrilling aerial demonstrations and exhibits of all sorts of flying machines, the Paris Air Show is typically a time for press conferences and meetings among industry professionals; each year dozens of contracts and agreements are signed during the trade show. [Agence France Presse 06/12/07]


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

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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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