Status Report

France in Space #239

By SpaceRef Editor
June 9, 2003
Filed under ,


The European Space Agency (ESA) is ready to finalize the conditions for
participation in the Galileo navigation program and to approve the Galileo
Joint Undertaking foundation act to be soon signed by ESA and the European
Union. The Galileo Joint Undertaking, to be headquartered in Brussels, has a
key part to play in implementing the various phases of the programme. This
unique organisational structure will pave the way for the entity that will
in due course operate the Galileo system. It will be responsible for the
Galileo development and validation phase and also for preparations for
system deployment and operations. Galileo will complement the existing
satellite navigation system, which presently relies entirely on GPS, the
American Global Positioning System. Developed by ESA and the EU on the basis
of equal co-funding, Galileo is designed to provide a complete civil system.
Scheduled to be operational by 2008, it will offer the citizens of Europe
and the world an accurate and secure satellite positioning capability. A
broad range of applications will be supported by the system: control of
road, rail and sea traffic, synchronized data transmission between
computers, and many others. Projections point to very significant economic
benefits, with a return on investment of 4.6 and creation of over 140 000
jobs. Galileo is the first instance of a project carried out jointly by the
European Space Agency and the European Union.
[ESA Press Release 05/26/2003]


The Italian group Finmeccanica (Alenia Spazio) and the telecommunications
group Alcatel (Alcatel Space) are said to be negotiating the creation of a
joint venture in the satellite field with revenues expected to reach 2.5
billion Euros. Rumors of a merger between Alenia Spazio, Astrium, Alcatel
Space or even Boeing Satellite Systems have been recurrent for several
years. But negotiations have always failed to address the issue of the
position of the Italian group successfully. Smaller in size than its
European competitors, Alenia Spazio have always claimed a stake higher that
its current weight. For a large number of professionals, there can only be
positive prospects for one large European manufacturer in this sector today.
In clear, Alcatel Space and Astrium should involve Alenia Spazio in their
union or otherwise the Italian company may turn to other partners. Beyond
the question of who will control the future European satellite conglomerate,
there is another issue at hand: the social impact of such venture. “Closing
high-tech plants is much more difficult than closing saucepan plants. It’s
very tough to lay off engineers who will be needed as soon as the market
picks up”, explained Stéphane Chenard, a consultant with the expert firm
[La Tribune 05/21/03 Le Figaro 05/23/03]


The European Mars Express space probe has been placed successfully in a
trajectory that will take it beyond the terrestrial environment and on the
way to Mars – getting there in late December. This first European Space
Agency probe to head for another planet will enter an orbit around Mars,
from where it will perform detailed studies of the planet’s surface, its
subsurface structures and its atmosphere. It will also deploy Beagle 2, a
small autonomous station that will land on the planet, studying its surface
and looking for possible signs of life, past or present. The probe, weighing
in at 1120 kg, was built on ESA’s behalf by a European team led by Astrium.
It set out on its journey to Mars aboard a Soyuz-Fregat launcher, under
Starsem operational management. The launcher lifted off from Baïkonur in
Kazakhstan on 2 June at 17:45 GMT. CNES (French Space Agency) and a number
of French scientific teams have contributed to the payload on ESA’s Mars
Express probe. Among the instruments on board, French prime contractors
developed OMEGA and SPICAM with support from CNES. OMEGA is a mapping
spectrometer whose main mission is to analyze Mars’ surface mineral
composition. SPICAM is a spectrometer developed by the CNRS (French
Scientific Research Center) Aeronomy Department, at Verrières-le-Buisson.
SPICAM will study the Martian atmosphere, measuring ozone, oxidizing
components and UV surface radiation. CNES will continue to support the 30
French scientists from eight laboratories to help them maximize the science
value of data gathered by their experiments.
[ESA Press Release 06/02/2003 CNES Press Release 06/05/2003]


Comet-chasing mission Rosetta will now set its sights on Comet
Churyumov-Gerasimenko. During its meeting on 13-14th May 2003, ESA’s Science
Programme Committee decided Rosetta’s new mission baseline. The spacecraft
will be launched in February 2004 from Kourou, French Guiana, using an
Ariane-5 G+ launcher. The rendezvous with the new target comet is expected
in November 2014. The choice of a new comet has required intensive efforts,
including observations by telescopes such as the Hubble Space Telescope and
the ESO Very Large Telescope to ensure we know as much as we can about the
new target. The cost of the Rosetta launch delay is estimated at round 70
million Euros. The ESA Ministerial Council has resolved the financial issue
by approving financial flexibility at Agency level. Once again, Europe is
set to try to do something no one has ever done before – to chase and catch
a comet.
[ESA Press Release 05/29/2003]


The new Soyuz TMA spacecraft, which will carry ESA astronaut Pedro Duque to
the ISS and back in October 2003, has been fully approved for operations.
Despite the unplanned re-entry in what is known as ‘ballistic’ mode, all the
new systems used within the Soyuz TMA-1 spacecraft performed according to
plan, including, in particular, the new soft-landing system, which
incorporates new engines and a new frame. This reduces the landing shock
from 12g in the old Soyuz TM series to 5g in the Soyuz TMA family. Certain
modifications will be made to this capsule as recommended by the official
enquiry commission. The first of these recommendations was to improve
communications capability by including a mobile satellite telephone in the
return capsule. This will be implemented immediately on Soyuz TMA-2 and the
telephone is to be transported to the ISS by an unmanned Progress vehicle.
The incorporation of a satellite communications capability such as
Cospas-Sarsat is also recommended in the longer term.
[ESA Press Release 06/05/2003]

** 6: IN BRIEF

The last round of discussions on the Commission’s Space Green Paper, before
the wrap-up in Paris, is set to take place in Prague on 2 and 3 June 2003.
The debate will centre on the ‘international dimension’ and will feature
speakers representing traditional as well as newer space players. For more
information on the consultation process and how to participate in the
events, contact: [European Commission 05/29/2003]
European Space Imaging announced today that the company has signed a
framework contract with the European Community titled “Supply of Satellite
Remote Sensing Data to European Institutes Services”. Under this framework
contract European Space Imaging will provide high-resolution global IKONOS
imagery for operational and research activities of the European Commission,
especially within the institutes of the Joint Research Centre (JRC) in
Ispra, Italy. The contract will last 2 years with the possibility of a
successive extension of another year. The Commission services are interested
in using the high-resolution satellite remote sensing data for the
assessment and monitoring of land use and infrastructure, disaster and
hazard mitigation, geophysical mapping, environmental mapping and planning,
and marine and coastal zone monitoring, mainly within but also beyond
Europe’s borders. [European Space Imaging 06/02/03] Ariane 5 is now complete
at the Guiana Space Center for its next launch on June 11th. The launcher
will place into geostationary orbit 2 satellites: Optus and Defence C1, for
Australian Department of Defense, will provide commercial communications
services over Oceania and Asia, as well as dedicated links for Defense,
BSAT-2c, for the Japanese BSAT company, will provide direct digital TV
broadcast links through Japan. Launch: From 9:36 pm to 11:02 pm on June 11
(GMT time). [CNES Press Release 06/05/2003 Arianespace 05/30/2003]

[From AFP Press Release, Arianespace Press Release,, CNES
Press Release, ESA Press Release, European Commission, European Space
Imaging, Le Figaro, La Tribune]


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: Vincent Sabathier, Thibaut Girard – Translator: World Traduction –
Corrector: Janick Bielskis-Jaeger

France In Space is available online at
you will find there the current issue, the subscription and un-subscription
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SpaceRef staff editor.