Status Report

France in Space #263

By SpaceRef Editor
August 16, 2004
Filed under , ,


Last year’s long hot summer was a bumper year for forest fires, with more
than half a million hectares of woodland destroyed across Mediterranean
Europe. So far this year fresh fires have occurred across Portugal, Spain
and southern France, with 2500 people evacuated from blazes in foothills
north of Marseille. According to the European Commission, each hectare of
forest (1 hectare = 2.5 acres) lost to fire costs Europe’s economy between a
1,000 and 5,000 Euros. The distinctive ‘burn scars’ left across the land by
forest fires can be identified from space as a specific spectral signature
from optical sensors in the short wavelength infrared, near infrared and
visible channels. A new Earth Observation-based service is employing
satellite imagery from SPOT and Landsat to automatically detect the 2004
burn scars within fire-prone areas of Southwest France, within the Puglia
and Marche regions of Italy and across the full territory of Spain. Burn
scar detection is planned to take place on a seasonal basis, identifying
fires covering at least one hectare to a standard resolution of 30 metres,
with detailed damage assessment available to a maximum resolution of 2.5
metres using the SPOT 5 satellite. Having been validated and geo-referenced,
burn scar maps can then be easily merged with other relevant geographical
detail in order to help identify correlations and decide where preventative
measures should be prioritised. At the end of the risk mapping process, the
probability of fire breaking out in a particular place and time can be
reliably calculated. The Risk-EOS burn scar mapping service began last year.
The intention is to develop further fire-related services by the end of
2007, including daily risk maps combining EO with meteorological and
vegetation data. Another planned service will identify ‘hot spots’ during
fires, and map fire events twice a day, permitting an overall assessment of
its development and the damage being done. [ESA 07/27/2004]


After 5 years of looking for a partnership, Finmeccanica decided to join its
business with Alcatel Space. The agreement was signed on June 18, 2004 and
should be finalised by the end of the year, making the merger Europe’s
Number 1 space industrial just behind Lockheed Martin and Boeing. Alcatel
Alenia Spazio (SatCo), own at 67% by Alcatel will care for the manufacturing
activities with expected revenues of 1.8 Beuros for 2004 and 7200 employees.
Telespazio Alcatel (ServCo), controlled mainly by Finmeccanica (66%) will
cover services (operations, network, launchers) with expected revenues of
350 Meuros and 1400 employees. [L’Usine Nouvelle 06/24/2004, Air&Cosmos


A recent European Commission strategy proposal sets its sites on securing
Europe’s leading role in research and technological development and space
research is identified as a key topic for achieving it. The proposal,
published by the European Commission on June 16, recommends increasing EU
funding to around €10 billion a year during the next Framework Programme
(FP7), starting in 2007, reducing the number of research themes and focusing
future European efforts on key topics such as space and security. The
Commission advocates setting up an agency to support basic research, as well
as encouraging more joint initiatives, which get behind industrial policy.
In addition, the proposal endorses further effort being put into developing
research and development infrastructures and boosting the numbers of skilled
researchers and innovation taking place in key sectors. The document,
entitled ‘Science and technology – the key to Europe’s future’, was based on
a February 2004 proposal on the future of EU research programmes. Setting up
European centres of excellence, by increasing co-operation between
scientific stakeholders at all levels, is also a priority to exploit fully
European added value. It is important to create what it calls a critical
mass of material, human and intellectual resources, and to better mobilise
public and private research funding. By doubling the budget and
concentrating research on fewer priorities in FP7 – compared with FP6 – the
proposal suggests this might improve the chances of making this happen. In
the lead-up to FP7, the Commission plans to identify topics on which
European research should focus its talents. Two topics of great importance
have already been identified; namely, space and security. [European
Commission 08/03/2004]


American defense contractors Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman say they
will cooperate closely with European companies on the development of George
W. Bush’s so-called “Star Wars” missile defense system. In a joint
memorandum of understanding with EADS, the companies said they would work
together to develop missile defense systems for the United States, Europe
and Asia. The deal could mean billions in business for EADS and other
contractors. Italy’s Alenia and Britain’s BAE Systems are also expected to
take part in the cooperation, which brings full circle a deal closed two
years ago between EADS and arch-rival Boeing to cooperate in the system’s
development. Boeing is currently the lead contractor on missile defense
development in the U.S. For Europe’s NATO members, the development of the
missile defense system — depending on its scope and the level of
participation — could turn into a multi-billion euro program. But it also
faces an uphill battle — EU governments must approve the program and find
room for it in their already tight defense budgets. So far, the only
European country that has given the missile defense program thumbs up is
Britain. Many European governments are wary of the missile defense system
but the project could bring huge rewards for European industry. Industry
observers told the Financial Times Deutschland that the U.S. could invest as
much as $8 billion annually in the program. But defense experts have also
questioned the effectiveness of the missile protection shield, which is
supposed to destroy incoming missiles in space using either fast
anti-missile rockets that crash into the missile in mid-air or laser beams
that can also destroy missiles. For the Europeans, the opportunity to
cooperate with the US industry would be an important step to strengthen
transatlantic relations. Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, EADS, Raytheon,
CSC, IABG, INO and several Israeli firms are among those attending a Berlin
conference on missile defense systems this week. [Deutsche Welle German
radio 07/21/2004]


The summer holidays give everyone the opportunity to do something different.
Many youngsters will this year be attending holiday camps that further their
interests for space and science with hands-on activities – such as launching
model rockets. In the French Pyrenees, under the auspices of the Association
‘Planète Sciences, 25 youngsters, aged from 13 to 15, met to learn more
about space technology and science. One of the main attractions is launching
model rockets. A nearby field has been transformed into a launch zone. Much
hard work has gone into building some weird looking designs and into
choosing their names: ‘Apocalypse’, ‘Armageddon’, and ‘Grunch’. The models
are powered by miniature rocket motors. Strict safety measures apply as for
a real Ariane launch campaign at Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou. All the
youngsters count down to liftoff and follow the ascent of their models. Some
can reach a height of 200 metres. Another activity allows the participants
to actually do some real science with balloon experiments. Activities are
lots of fun as well as serious stuff. For example, the children learn about
the pressure and temperature variations as a balloon rises, one even reached
an altitude of 34 km. After sunset, all eyes are turned towards the heavens
to discover the secrets of the Universe. Some of the youngsters may
eventually become professional astronomers – but for all of them such a
holiday camp provides unforgettable magic moments. [ESA 08/06/2004]

** 6: IN BRIEF

Transatlantic cooperation in Mars exploration has already moved beyond
Europe’s Mars Express orbiter. Nexans, a French manufacturer, says it
provided 90% of the wiring and cabling on NASA’s Spirit and Opportunity Mars
Exploration Rovers. The hardware was supplied by Nexans’ Elm City, N.C.
plant, which also equipped the shuttle fleet using a design devised in
cooperation with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Michel Lemaire, who directs
Nexans’North American and Asian activities, said the fluoropolymer/polymide
wiring combines a high degree of chemical inertness with strong mechanical
resistance across a broad temperature range. [Aviation Week & Space
Technology 07/26/2004]

The Amazonas spacecraft, designed and built by EADS Astrium for HISPASAT,
was successfully launched from Baikonur on August 5th. Amazonas is the third
Eurostar 3000 satellite to be launched this year by a Proton Breeze launcher
of International Launch Services. Amazonas is the most powerful satellite
ordered by Hispasat. The satellite was delivered in time, which was very
important. It is equipped with a new lithium-ion battery offering higher
efficiency. [EADS Astrium 08/05/2004]

The European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company (EADS) reported a loss in
its space division in the first half of 2003, but company officials believed
the division’s turnaround was still on course. The space division of EADS
reported a loss of €11 million (US$13 million) in the first half of 2004 on
revenues of €1.09 billion (US$1.31 billion). That loss was the same amount
the company recorded in the first quarter, implying that the division broke
even in the second quarter, although EADS did not supply a breakout of
second quarter figures in its earnings release. The space division had
reported a loss of €131 million (US$157 million) on €1.01 billion (US$1.21
billion) in the same quarter of 2003. The division, which is the prime
contractor for the Ariane launch vehicle and owns the commercial satellite
developer Astrium, credited restructuring as well as increased revenue from
the Paradigm venture with the UK Ministry of Defense for the improved
results. [EADS 08/05/2004]

Israel’s financial participation to the European Galileo project was
confirmed by the ministry of commerce & industry, Ehud Olmert. Sources say
that Israel could contribute between 20 and 50 Meuros. [AFP 07/13/2004]
The European Union proposed to the Brazilian government an institutional
agreement for Brazil to become a partner in Galileo which contrary to the
GPS constellation managed by the military, will be a civilian program. The
European Union has already convinced China (200 Meuros), India (300 Meuros)
and Canada. Chile could also be interested. Partners to the project can be
involved with its development or operation of ground stations, applications
& services. [AFP 07/01/2004]

EADS & Finmeccanica plan on creating a new company to develop the launch
vehicle that will follow Ariane 5. EADS will own 70% & Finmeccanica 30% of
the future company. The Italian company is already involved in the
manufacturing of Ariane 5 (15%). ESA requested that partnerships be created
in the frame of the FLPP (Future Launchers Preparatory Program). EADS
believes that the Ariane legacy will end in 2020. [AFP 07/02/2004, La
Tribune 07/05/2004]

EADS SPACE Transportation and ESA signed the “Initial Exploitation Contract”
for the European contribution to the International Space Station (ISS)
including the production of six Automated Transfer Vehicles (ATV). This
contract will allow Europe to contribute to utilisation and operation of the
ISS. The ATV is the most challenging and complex space vehicle ever
developed and built in Europe. The logistics services of ATV flights
represent Europe’s “in kind” contribution to the operating costs of the ISS
and allow ESA to act as a key partner for construction, utilisation and
logistics of the ISS. The ATV prototype, called Jules Verne, procured under
an earlier development contract, will be launched in 2005. The overall value
of this contract is about 1.05 BEuros, of which 835 MEuros is earmarked for
ATV production. The contract sets out a flexible production schedule for the
ATV, running until 2013, thus allowing optimum response to any programmatic
or political decisions, which may be taken in relation to the ISS. [EADS
Space Transporation 07/13/2004]

[From AFP, Air & Cosmos, Alcatel, Arianespace, Aviation Week & Space
Technology, Cercle Finance, CNES, EADS Astrium, EADS Space, ESA, European
Commission, Le Figaro, Launch Services Alliance, La Lettre de l’Expansion,
NASA, Reuters, Space News,, La Tribune, L’Usine Nouvelle]

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, Valery Tessier-Leon

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