France-in-Space #385

Status Report From: Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES)
Posted: Thursday, August 9, 2007


Last week, in what was a world's first, three human spaceflight control centers, located in three different countries, successfully carried out a simulated rendezvous of Europe's Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) with the International Space Station (ISS). The three control centers taking part in the simulation, and which will follow the actual rendezvous in early 2008, were CNES? ATV Control Center in Toulouse, France, NASA's Mission Control in Houston, Texas and the Russian Mission Control Center (TsUP) near Moscow. The ATV Control Center in Toulouse acted as the lead mission control center in charge of man-rated operations for the ATV while the Mission Control Centers in Moscow and Houston supported and authorized the rendezvous. The simulated rendezvous showed that the systems and control centers are all working well. The teams will nevertheless make some adjustments and are planning on carrying out a dozen more simulations, including a few failure scenarios, before the actual mission. [ESA 08/03/07]


Astrium has been awarded a contract from the German Aerospace Center (DLR) to study concepts for a new upper stage for Vega, the new European launcher. The study, baptized VENUS (VEga New Upper Stage), is worth roughly half a million euros and will run for 18 months. Currently under development by the Italian Space Agency for the European Space Agency, Vega is scheduled to launch for the first time in 2009. According to Gunter Stamerjohanns, Head of Astrium's launcher systems, the VENUS study ?holds tremendous potential for Astrium in Bremen. It could lead to us developing and building the upper stages of every future European launcher. We will use our extensive expertise built up on Ariane as we progress the study?? [EADS Astrium 07/23/07, Agence France Presse 07/24/07]


On July 25th, the European Commission approved the proposed joint venture between SES Astra of Luxemburg and Eutelsat of France. The joint venture will be created to develop a satellite infrastructure for mobile television and two-way communications services in S-band; the satellite is to be launched in 2009. The Commission concluded that the transaction would not significantly impede competition in Europe as several competing terrestrially-based mobile broadcast technologies are already in development. In 2006, both companies had announced that, instead of each building and launching S-band satellites in what they both deemed a risky market, they would split the cost of adding an S-band antenna to Eutelsat's W2A satellite. The two companies had estimated the cost of building and integrating the antenna, and making other necessary modifications to the W2A spacecraft, at approximately 130 million euros. [European Commission 07/25/07, Space News 07/30/07]


U.S. and European negotiators meeting on July 26th came to an agreement on a common signal for their future navigation and positioning satellite systems which should allow for higher precision tracking in urban canyons and other difficult locations. Both sides agreed that the future GPS 3A and Galileo Open Service signals will employ a common structure. The U.S. and Europe had previously agreed to work together towards an optimal compatibility and interoperability of the two systems according to a June 2004 agreement. Both GPS 3A and Galileo are several years away from entering service however the new agreement on signal compatibility gives GPS 3 system builders and designers time to integrate the common signal structure into their instruments. [Space News 07/30/07]


EADS Astrium, the space division of EADS N.V., reported its half-year results on July 26th which showed sharp increases in revenue and gross profit for the six months ending June 30th. EADS Astrium had revenues of 1.42 billion euros which represents an almost 12% growth over the same period a year earlier. Profit before interest and taxes rose 24% over last year to 47 million euros. EADS? Paradigm Services, which provides telecommunications services to the British Defense Ministry, cleared an important milestone this year with the launch of the first Skynet 5A military telecommunications satellite; a second satellite is scheduled for launch in December. Services accounted for 16% of EADS Astrium's revenue for the first six months of 2007. Satellite manufacturing accounted for 38% of revenue as the company has booked four new commercial telecommunications satellite orders this year alone. Astrium Space Transportation, the entity which carries out work on the Ariane 5 launcher as well as ballistic missile development for the French Ministry of Defense, accounted for 46% of revenue. During the Paris Air Show, EADS Astrium and Arianespace signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) regarding the production of 35 Ariane 5 ECA launchers; the agreement ensures launcher continuity from 2010 onwards. [EADS 07/26/07, Space News 07/30/07]


Arnold Migus, Director General of CNRS (the French National Center for Scientific Research), and Yannick d?Escatha, President of CNES, met on July 30th to sign a new framework agreement between the two agencies which will carry them through the next three years. This new agreement prolongs the convention, originally signed in 1976, calling on the two organizations to work together in the area of Earth and Space Sciences. The complementarities between the two agencies? respective competences in science and technology and the necessity to optimize investments led the two agencies to reinforce their cooperation. Among the most recent successes of this fruitful cooperation are the JASON oceanographic satellite, carried out in cooperation with the United States, the DEMETER micro-satellites (detection of seismic, volcanic and man-made signals), PARASOL (climate monitoring micro-satellite, carried out in cooperation with the United States), and the COROT satellite currently searching for exoplanets. [CNES & CNRS 07/30/07]

** 7: IN BRIEF

ESA's Eurobot, a multi-jointed functioning robot currently being developed for the agency by a consortium led by Thales Alenia Space, recently completed its second set of trials in a neutral buoyancy tank at the European Astronaut Center in Cologne, Germany. The robot was designed to assist astronauts during extravehicular activity (EVA) and even complete everyday EVA on its own. ESA intends to propose a demonstration mission at its next ministerial meeting in 2008. [Aviation Week 07/23/07]

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: Emmanuel de Lipkowski, 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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