Status Report

France in Space #226

By SpaceRef Editor
February 4, 2004
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On behalf of CNES, the French Space Agency, I would like to extend our
condolences over the tragic loss of the crew of Columbia. Our hearts go out
to the families, friends, and colleagues of those courageous astronauts.
Yet, at the same time, we look forward to the great achievements that lie
ahead for the astronauts who stand ready, even as did the Columbia crew, to
explore space, at the risk of their own lives, for the betterment of all
mankind. President Bush well understood this, when he declared, “the cause
for which they died will continue, the journey into space will go on.” This
resolute commitment to a most noble purpose, in the face of tragic human
loss, has the respect of the entire world.
Space exploration is an international endeavor where the U.S. has always
shown outstanding leadership. For many years, CNES and NASA have been
partners in the exploration of space. Our astronauts have flown together on
the Shuttle and on the International Space Station. Confident of the
continued support of our two great nations, we perceive no limit to what our
astronauts will accomplish, together, in the future.

With our deepest sympathy,

Vincent Sabathier

Attaché for Space and CNES Representative in the United States


“Without a powerful CNES (French Space Agency), there is no possible
European Space”. This statement highlights the recent report on French space
policy submitted to former astronaut and current Minister of Research,
Claudie Haigneré. CNES officials had feared the report would recommend the
agency’s dissolution. It actually reinforces the idea that CNES must
maintain its power to present and develop further projects, in order to keep
on defining the French space policy and maintaining its leadership in the
European integration process. The report also recommends the creation of a
Space Council and stipulates that a CEO be named by the French Council of
Ministers. Furthermore, CNES is to rapidly hire an auditor in order to
control its budget spending. Security and Defense must become a strategic
priority, as it is the case in the United States. Also, regarding Ariane 5,
experts request that every possible mean for success be undertaken to
ensure, once again, the high reliability of the European launcher. Finally,
regarding the industry, the report advocates a closer cooperation between
Alcatel Space and Astrium, the satellite manufacturing division of the
European Aeronautic, Defense and Space Company – EADS.
[CRPS Report 01/16/2003, Le Figaro 01/18/03, AFP Press Release 01/17/03, La
Tribune 01/20/03]


The space policy integration within the European Union (EU) raises a number
of sensitive and complex issues for the member states, cautious towards the
future of this strategic sector. To fuel the debate, the European executive
body will publish a Green Paper listing strengths and weaknesses of the
European Space industry. This Green Paper will focus on independent access
to space, on the issue of manned flights, on the relationship between the
EU, the member states and the European Space Agency (ESA), as well as on the
fiscal and financial efforts of the EU in the space sector. This project
will end on May 30. Simultaneously, Antonio Rodotà, ESA’s Director General,
declared that the current version of Ariane 5 (Baseline and ECA) was to be
used a few more years in order to prove its reliability. He also announced
that no new activity on the ECB new stage would be carried out before 2005.
The qualification phase of the Vinci engine will be postponed until 2008.
“Our organization needs sliming down” stated Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA’s
future Director General.
[AFP Press release 01/21/2003, ESA Press Release 01/21/2003, La Tribune


25 volunteers spent 3 months in Toulouse, France, laying in a -6° head-down
tilt position. MEDES (the space medicine and physiology institute) carried
out the longest “decubitus anti-orthostatic” study ever. The study, named
“Bedrest”, was carried out by the European, French and Japanese space
agencies (ESA, CNES, and NASDA) and is expected to lead to some relevant
findings in the fields of space flights and healthcare in general.
Scientists simulated the weightless effect, typical of the space
environment, through the head-down tilt of the bed. The preliminary findings
of the study show that subjects who exercised (only a few minutes of intense
exercise every three days) were least affected by muscle deterioration.
Also, mineral deficiency was observed in the weight-bearing bones, such as
the legs.
[CNES/ESA Press Release 01/14/2003, Le Figaro 01/21/2003]


A major shakeup of Europe’s satellite manufacturing sectors looks possible
since Italy’s Alenia Spazio began talks in late October with France’s
Alcatel Space and Astrium (the space division of the European Aeronautic,
Defense and Space company – EADS) about a potential tie-up of their
satellite manufacturing businesses. However, European space industry
analysts are divided over whether such a merger is likely or even possible.
There are three major obstacles to the formation of a pan-European satellite
manufacturing business. The nature of the market would make it difficult for
an all-European consortium to access to business in the US. It would make
more sense for a European company to merge with a US concern. The second
problem is that the creation of a large and dominant European satellite
manufacturer would create major antitrust problems in Europe. There would
be one main customer (ESA) and one main supplier and competition would be
needed to tender any bid and force companies to reduce its price of each
proposal. The third obstacle to a merger is the long-standing reluctance of
Alcatel to foresee a three-way partnership, although it has considered
strategic and technical cooperation with Astrium.
[Aerospace America 01/2003]


Seven of the 31 payloads are sponsored by ESA, with the financial
participation of CNES. The crew will work 24 hours a day in two alternating
shifts on experiments covering astronaut health and safety, advanced
technology development and life and physical sciences. “ESA has provided
NASA with an Airbus Super Guppy to fly large International Space Station
elements across the US and in exchange has the opportunity to fly 450kg of
microgravity payload on NASA Space Shuttle missions”, explains Jörg
Feustel-Büechl, ESA’s Director of Human Spaceflight. 4 experiments led by
CNES (the French Space Agency) will also be flying aboard Columbia. Among
these experiments, two will study the behavior of bone cells in
microgravity, one will be experimenting on protein growth during
high-quality crystallization, from Strasbourg, and the last one, led by the
Paris Neuroscience Institute, will study the formation of the cerebrospinal
fluid (CSF).
[CNES Press Release 01/15/03, ESA Press Release 01/15/2003]]


The military spending bill (2003-2008) was adopted by the French parliament,
totaling 88.87 billion Euros for equipment. This budget includes the launch
of a French military observation satellite in 2004 (Helios 2A) and a second
one in 2008 (Helios 2B). [AFP Press Release 01/15/2003]
Two French scientists discovered the 27th Mars meteorite in the Moroccan
Sahara desert. This tiny 35.85 grams stone is estimated to have been born a
mere 170 million years ago. [Le Nouvel Observateur 01/22/2003, Le Monde
On the Galileo issue, the European Commission highlighted that the delays
caused by ESA’s lengthy decision-making process did not disrupt the Galileo
program. Deadlines will have to be met. [AFP Press Release 01/15/2003]
SNECMA (French propulsion company) announced that its 2002 balance sheet is
better than expected, with a 6% reduction in revenues as opposed to the 10%
previously expected. Snecma deplores, however, the loss of Stentor’s and
Astra 1-K’s plasma propulsion engines, as well as the failure of the new
Ariane 5 version. [Air et Cosmos 01/17/2003]
The Russian company RSCC (Russian Satellite Communications Company) selected
Alcatel Space for the supply of Express AM2 and AM3 satellites payloads.
[Alcatel Press Release 01/20/2003]

SpaceRef staff editor.