Status Report

France in Space #247

By SpaceRef Editor
August 25, 2003
Filed under ,

FRANCE IN SPACE, NUMBER 247 08/25/2003




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On July 31, 2003, Claudie Haigneré, the French Research and New Technology
Minister, along with representatives from 30 States and a dozen
international organizations, attended the Earth Observation Summit held by
the US State Department in Washington, D.C. Referring to the meetings in
Johannesburg (in 2002) and Evian (G8 in 2003), Claudie Haigneré insisted on
the urgency to take solutions that would perpetuate the observation systems
and the political commitment of France in this field. “Supporting countries
from the South is also a major stake,” added the French Minister. “Sharing
knowledge and know-how is one of the most durable ways of having societies
control their own development.” Underlining that Europe has very early on
been aware of this requirement in line with a real political responsibility
regarding our fellow citizens, Claudie Haigneré expressed her desire that
the GMES initiative (Global Monitoring Environmental System) of the European
Union and the European Space Agency (ESA), convey “the European contribution
to this global initiative in regards to Earth Observation”. By making a
joint statement, the participants highlighted the necessity to keep
improving the coordination of national, regional and international
strategies in order to monitor the condition of the Earth and better
understand it to better protect it. Underlining their political commitment,
the States expressed their involvement and support to developing countries
with a particular focus on data sharing issues. National representatives
decided to create a work group in charge of designing a 10-year
implementation plan that will be introduced to the political level at the
next ministerial meetings in Japan and Europe.
[Ministère de la Recherche et des Nouvelles Technologies 08/01/2003]


Fuelled by drought conditions and swirling winds, fires in the south of
France have spread to over 15,000 hectares of forest. In response to this
disaster, government agencies and local authorities are turning to a range
of sources to obtain geographic information products to pinpoint
fire-damaged areas and protect populations. To this end, the French defense
and civil protection directorate (DDSC) contacted the organizations within
the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters with a request to
task their satellites to acquire precise imagery of the extent of fire
scars. Since 19 July, CNES (French Space Agency) has been providing access
to optical data from the SPOT system, which is a powerful aid for locating
and assessing fire damage. The French SPOT satellites can acquire imagery
anywhere in the world every day. To cover forest fires in the Var region of
southeast France, 2.5 metres resolution colour data from the SPOT 5
satellite were used to produce and deliver maps to local firefighting teams
within just five hours of image acquisition. Satellite data are a valuable
aid for covering such natural disasters and assessing their impacts. The
Charter is a fine example of what close cooperation between nations can
achieve when the life and safety of populations is at stake. Operational
since November 2000 and proposed by ESA (European Space Agency) and CNES
(French Space Agency) at the United Nations Unispace III conference in
Vienna in July 1999 – joined later by CSA (Canadian Space Agency), more
recently ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization), NOAA (National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration) and CONAE (Argentina’s space activities
commission), and soon by the United Nations and Japan – the Charter,
encourages international cooperation between space agencies and private
space system operators for the benefit of populations hit by earthquakes,
flooding, oil spills and storms in many countries in recent years. These
resources include optical and radar Earth observation satellites such as
SPOT, ERS, Envisat, Radarsat and IRS. Their use within the Charter framework
constitutes a legitimate return on investment by governments in this area
over the years. [CNES Press Release 08/05/2003]


Alcatel Space, a subsidiary of Alcatel delivered to the CNES (French Space
Agency), on behalf of Eumetsat – the European organization for the
exploitation of meteorological satellites – the first flight model of IASI
(Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer). This sounder will be
integrated on Europe’s Metop weather satellite for a planned launch in
mid-2005. The IASI mission will supply extremely accurate temperature and
humidity profiles to improve weather forecasts. It will also help identify
the chemical compounds involved in causing the greenhouse effect and
atmospheric pollution. The instrument delivered is the first of a series of
three autonomous instruments ordered by Eumetsat. They will be installed on
Metop satellites, deployed as part of the future European Polar System. For
this program, CNES is prime for the entire IASI system comprising the
instruments, ground data processing software and technical evaluation
center. The IASI instrument features highly innovative technologies for
polar orbit meteorological systems. An optical interferometry process offers
a fine spectral sampling of the atmosphere in the infrared band from 3.62 to
15.5 microns. This enables the instrument to establish temperature and water
vapor profiles in the troposphere and the lower stratosphere, as well as
measuring quantities of ozone, carbon monoxide, methane and other compounds,
all of which play fundamental roles in tropospheric phenomena and the
greenhouse effect, for instance. The sophisticated IASI instrument
incorporates a number of advanced spaceborne technologies, including a gas
cell stabilized laser, an ASIC (application specific integrated circuit)
pre-amplifier cooled to 100 Kelvin, and silicon carbide cube corner mirrors.
[Alcatel Press Release 08/01/2003]


Following a consultation process that involved around 150 young people from
all EU countries, the United Nations’ Space Generation Advisory Council
(SGAC) has published its recommendations on the EU Green Paper on European
Space Policy. The document was handed to Research Commissioner Philippe
Busquin at the Green Paper Closing Conference in Paris. One of the major
recurring themes during the Space Green Paper consultation process was the
importance of young people in the space industry. Long-term programmes and
inspirational visions are seen by many as key to ensuring that a next
generation of space pioneers will be there to take up the European standard.
The SGAC is a voluntary body representing youth and young space
professionals to the United Nations, states and space agencies. Its key
recommendations call upon the Union to: Substantially increase the scope of
EU space programmes, increase overall investment, integrate national space
and defense programmes, and use resources more efficiently; Develop
capabilities in space security; Strengthen and enforce space law and develop
a treaty prohibiting space weapons; Develop an inexpensive launch capability
focusing on unconventional technologies; Expand cutting-edge programmes,
including human spaceflight and exploration, providing inspiration and
reducing brain drain; Dedicate 1% of all space budgets to education and
outreach; Establish a centre for strategic interdisciplinary research; and
Establish a Youth Advisory Council to support EU Space Policy. [European
Commission 07/28/2003]


Engineers tested an ion engine as a main propulsion system for the first
time using NASA’s Deep Space 1 mission between 1998 and 2001. ESA’s SMART-1
mission, due for launch in late August 2003, will go to the Moon and
demonstrate more subtle operations of the kind needed in future
long-distance missions. These will combine solar-electric propulsion with
maneuvers using the gravity of planets and moons for the first time. SMART-1
will ensure Europe’s independence in the use of ion propulsion. Other space
science missions are expected to use ion engines for complex maneuvers close
to Earth’s orbit. For example, ESA’s mission LISA will detect gravitational
waves coming from the distant Universe. ESA’s future missions to the planets
will also use ion engines to send them on their way. The ion engine
principle is simply conventional physics – you take a gas and you ionise it,
which means that you give it an electrical charge. This creates positively
charged ions of gas, along with electrons. The ionised gas passes through an
electric field or screen at the back of the engine and the ions leave the
engine, producing a thrust in the opposite direction. Operating in the near
vacuum of space, ion engines shoot out the propellant gas much faster than
the jet of a chemical rocket. They therefore deliver about ten times as much
thrust per kilogram of propellant used, making them very ‘fuel-efficient’.
Although they are efficient, ion engines are very low-thrust devices. The
amount of push you get for the amount of propellant used is very good, but
they do not push very strongly. For example, astronauts could never use them
for taking off the surface of a planet. However, once in space, they could
use them for maneuvering around, if they are not in a hurry to accelerate
quickly. [ESA Press Release 07/30/2003]

** 6: IN BRIEF

Arianespace announced the mission’s liftoff date has been rescheduled for
late September after one of the payload clients requested additional
verifications on its satellite. Flight 162 had been set for launch on August
28. It will carry a trio of spacecraft: INSAT-3E for India, Eutelsat’s
e-BIRD and the European Space Agency’s SMART-1. [Arianespace 08/18/2003]
Despite an exceptional allowance of 88 million Euros posted in the first
half of the fiscal year in order to fund their Space division, EADS has
renewed their goal for stable operating profits (1.1 billion Euros in 2002)
and revenues (29.9 billion Euros in 2002). EADS wants its Space division to
break even in 2004. EADS is searching for opportunities to spread their
roots through the United States. The European company already has 2,000
employees in the US. [Le Figaro 07/26-07/28/2003]

[From Alcatel Press Release, Arianespace Press Release, CNES Press Release,
ESA Press Release, European Commission, Le Figaro, Ministère de la Recherche
et des Nouvelles Technologies]

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

France In Space is available online at
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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

SpaceRef staff editor.