Status Report

France in Space #244

By SpaceRef Editor
July 15, 2003
Filed under ,


Professor Sigmar Wittig, Chairman of the Executive Board of DLR (German
Space Agency), and Yannick d’Escatha, President of CNES (French Space
Agency), held a first meeting of the joint Executive Committee on 3 July
2003 in Cologne, Germany, within the framework of the agreement the two
agencies signed last year. The purpose of the meeting was to lay plans for
closer cooperation and to define a strategic blueprint for a strong European
space industry. French-German cooperation is crucial to boost Europe’s
presence in space, in particular to assure access to space through the
Ariane 5 launcher, following the ESA Ministerial Council meeting on 27 May
2003. DLR and CNES, two strong partners working together under the agreement
signed in 2002, shoulder over 50% of the work share in ESA programmes and
more than 70% in launchers. To assure Europe’s long-term access to space,
DLR and CNES have decided for 2003-2004 to: pursue closer cooperation in
Earth observation by conceiving new space-based assets, exploit the
complementarities between optical and radar data and undertake actions to
prepare for Europe’s independent GMES programme (Global Monitoring for
Environment and Security), cooperate on the next generation of launch
systems decided at the ESA Council meeting in May, develop joint positions
aimed at establishing a European space strategy and space policy, including
the role of space in the future European Constitution and preparation of the
White Paper that will lay the framework for Europe’s future space policy,
craft proposals regarding the necessary reform of ESA’s decision-making and
funding processes, as part of European Union enlargement, strengthen
cooperation on research and technology, in particular by capitalizing on the
agencies’ complementary areas of expertise. The next meeting, scheduled
early in 2004, will provide the opportunity to review the initial results of
these cooperative efforts and define additional objectives.
[CNES Press Release 07/08/2003]


Convention Chairman and former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing
presented the latest draft of a new EU constitution at the European Council
in Thessaloniki, Greece on 20 June 2003. The document, which forms the basis
of a new Treaty re-shaping the EU before the admission of 10 new members in
2004, includes, for the first time, specific references to Space. In doing
so it opens the door to the extension of European space activities into a
number of critical policy areas, including European defense. Speaking in
Brussels in March 2003, former Belgian Prime Minister and European
Convention Vice-Chairman Jean-Luc Dehaene said, “It is very important that
space be recognised at the highest political levels, and that it be included
explicitly in the next European Treaty.” The draft Treaty mentions space
explicitly in two separate sections. First, under Article I-13: ‘Areas of
shared competence’, space is mentioned along with research and technological
development (RTD): According to Giscard d’Estaing, the allocation of
competencies among the Union and Member States makes it clear “who does what
in Europe”. The definition of space as a shared competence essentially gives
the Union the authority to implement space programmes, as long as it does
not interfere with Member States’ activities. For EU Research Commissioner
Philippe Busquin , the simple fact that space is mentioned for the first
time in a European Treaty means the beginning of a new chapter for Europe in
space. In addition to its specific references to space, the draft Treaty
also makes provisions for the creation of a ‘European Armaments, Research
and Military Capabilities Agency’. While it does not mention space
specifically in this context, recent discussions within the Space Green
Paper consultation process, for example at the special workshop on security
and defence aspects in Athens in May 2003, have made it clear that any
credible defence policy will have to encompass a major space component.
[European Commission 07/04/2003]


CNES (French Space Agency) just conducted a stratospheric balloon flight
from the Kiruna launch base in Sweden for the purposes of a particularly
innovative mission: to perform drop tests from an altitude of 30 kilometres
on a flight prototype developed by NAL, the Japanese aerospace laboratory,
and NASDA, the Japanese space agency. The flight prototype is a
500-kilogram, quarter-scale model of Japan’s HOPE-X spaceplane. NAL and
NASDA had already completed subsonic flight tests and hypersonic flight
phases, and had tested extreme aerodynamic heating and landing. This High
Speed Flight Demonstrator 2 (HSFD 2) project aimed to acquire data during
the transonic flight phase that will help to refine system design tools and
methodologies for controlling flight of re-entry vehicles with limited
handling qualities during transonic flight regimes. Rising and descent were
performed perfectly. The prototype was released in free fall and analysis
focused on the transonic flight phase between 20 and 10 kilometres, at which
it reached a speed of Mach 1. Unfortunately, next to a dysfunction of the
American parachute, the vehicle was heavily damaged during the landing. The
flight experiment in this campaign won’t be continued. Nevertheless, Japan
and France will share the data gathered during the descent, and CNES intends
to work with the French aerospace agency ONERA and industrial firms such as
EADS and Dassault on the project. [CNES Press Release 07/07/2003]


The French government is proposing that Europe’s scientific Earth
observation satellites in the future be funded by mandatory contributions
from the member states of the European Space Agency (ESA). Currently only
classical defined space-science missions – those that look outward to
celestial phenomena, not toward Earth – are funded in this manner. All other
ESA programmes and satellite are financed by voluntary contributions from
ESA member on an a la carte basis. Each contributing country is guaranteed
that its industry will receive contracts that nearly match its national
investment, a principle ESA refers to as geographic return. Claudie
Haignere, France’s minister for research and new technologies, whose
portfolio includes space, wants to add environmental sciences to the
mandatory ESA science program to add predictability to its budget. Genevieve
Debouzy, a deputy director for programmes at CNES likes the way the science
program is structured. “You have peer-review committees that judge competing
mission, and its up to the national space agencies, not ESA, to provide the
satellites’ payload instruments. Programs are selected on the basis of merit
only, not on the basis of geographical returns”. ESA governments in November
2001 agreed to finance a five-year program in environmental space science
(1.1 billion dollars). But that does not go far enough to ensure budget
stability and leaves environmental sciences in the grip of ESA’s
geographical return policy. [Space News 07/07/2003]


The management of EADS Space, the space division of the European group EADS,
disclosed details about the third stage of their heavy-duty downsizing
process. This stage involves cutting 962 jobs in Europe by 2005. Such layoff
plan comes on top of two other plans currently under way to cut 1600 and 700
jobs respectively. From early 2003 to late 2005, EADS Space will have lost
3,162 jobs, i.e. over 25% of their entire staff. This latest plan affects
the launcher department more heavily. EADS Space Transportation will lose
542 jobs (246 in Les Mureaux, and 92 in St Médard-en-Jalles) and Astrium
will also lose 400 jobs. The purpose of these three successive plans is to
adjust the structure of EADS’s space division to bad market conditions in
the satellite and launcher fields and streamline the redundant sites of the
European conglomerate. Unlike in the past, early retirement measures will
not be enough to address overstaffing issues. Therefore, it is likely that
employees will be actually laid off in the Paris and Bordeaux areas. A
European works council was established at EADS-Space. It will include
representatives of salaried employees in France, Germany, the UK and Spain.
[La Tribune 07/02/2003 AFP Press Release 07/08/2003]

** 6: IN BRIEF

On Friday 4 July, and Saturday 5 July 2003, engineers successfully carried
out overnight tests on the Mars Express lander, Beagle 2. With these tests,
the near-Earth phase of the Mars Express payload check-outs is almost
complete. All instruments, including the lander, have performed as expected.
Star calibration of some instruments is scheduled for mid-July, which marks
the first attempt to make scientific measurements. [ESA Press Release

After being chosen by Fiat to take over FiatAvio – a purchase negotiated at
1.5 billion Euros, Carlyle, the US-based investment fund allied to
Finmeccanica in the FiatAvio deal, could soon take control over the German
engine manufacturer MTU, a Daimler-Chrysler subsidiary. From this merger
would emerge one of the three leading European engine manufacturers, along
with the UK-based Rolls Royce and Snecma, the French propulsion company. [La
Tribune 07/07/2003]

After founding joint ventures in the radar, avionic and military
communication fields, Finmeccanica and BAE Systems could expand their
alliance to training aircraft. Finmeccanica is also interested in a
partnership with the French company Dassault in the field of unmanned
planes. [Les Echos 07/09/2003]

The French company Snecma and the Russian company EDB Fakel have signed a
cooperation agreement for the development, production and marketing of the
PPS-500, a high-power stationary plasma propeller. The current chemical
propulsion limits the satellite life expectancy to about fifteen years. [Air
et Cosmos 06/27/2003]

[From AFP Press Release, AIr & Cosmos, Arianespace Press Release, CNES Press
Release, Les Echos, ESA Press Release, European Commission, La Tribune,
Space News]

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

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SpaceRef staff editor.