Status Report

France in Space # 265

By SpaceRef Editor
August 11, 2004
Filed under , ,


The Aldridge Commission’s report on the US Space Exploration Initiative
proposes an unacceptable model for international cooperation, European
governments and industry officials said. During the Space Exploration &
International Cooperation organised by the French Embassy and the George
Washington University in Washington DC on June 21-22 and at a space-policy
symposium organised at the French Senate, European officials expressed
surprises and frustration that US policymakers appear wedded to the Joint
Strike Fighter aircraft program as a roadmap for enlisting global support
for exploring the moon, Mars and beyond. Christian Cabal, a French member of
parliament and president of the European Interparliamentary Space Conference
said Europe is concerned that the US focus on the moon and Mars will sap
attention and resources from the ISS even before the European and Japanese
laboratory modules have been launched. Another idea that was heard recently
is that European would be left to provide “bolts and screws when they want
to supply software”. The shuttle’s grounding since the Columbia accident is
costing Europe and Japan hundreds of millions of dollars. Europe wants the
ISS to be assembled and utilised before considering participating in any new
US vision. [Space News 07/12/2004, Space Exploration & International
Cooperation 06/21-22/2004]


Two small new European science/technology missions will investigate
gravitational wave, mass theories and study new technologies, such as
formation flying, intended to lay the groundwork for more ambitious
follow-on projects that could change the way scientists view the universe.
One, approved by the French Space Agency, CNES, will seek to test the
equivalence principle underlying Einstein’s theory of general relativity,
which holds that all objects fall at the same rate in a vacuum. The
satellite, called Microscope, will be based on the CNES-designed Myriade
microsatellite platform and launched in 2008 into a 700-kilometer near-polar
Earth orbit. CNES is paying 90% of the mission’s estimated 70.4 MEuros cost,
which includes one year of operations. The European Space Agency (ESA) is
also participating in the mission, as is France’s aerospace-research
institute, ONERA. The second satellite, endorsed by ESA, involves a
pathfinder mission for the Laser Interferometry Satellite Antenna (LISA), a
joint NASA/ESA venture that will search for the gravity waves thought to be
emitted by massive black holes and binary stars. EADS Astrium, England,
signed an 80-Meuros contract June 23 with ESA to build the LISA Pathfinder
for a launch in 2008 aboard the Russian Rockot or Russian-Ukrainian Dnepr
vehicle. LISA pathfinder’s total mission budget has been estimated at around
200 MEuros including launch and operations. The satellite will serve as a
miniature test bed for a larger LISA satellite and will employ
micro-thrusters and lasers in two payload packages provided by ESA and NASA.
A key satellite component for both satellites will be its electric
micro-propulsion unit, called Field Emission Electric Propulsion that could
be built by Italy’s Alta SpA space research center in Pisa, Italy. [Space
News 06/28/2004, Aviation Week & Space Technology 07/05/2004]


France’s Conseil Economique et Social, a government advisory body,
recommends steps to reinforce the European Union’s involvement in space
matters, and to increase and enhance the contributions of EU nations to the
space effort. One recommendation is to name a EU commissioner for space, a
move made possible under a constitutional treaty approved on June 18.
Linking Europe’s various national space agencies in a consortium to provide
technical support for EU and European Space Agency space programs would also
enhance the continent’s space presence, the French panel said. A more
controversial suggestion would see French Space Agency (CNES) moved from the
research ministry to the economics ministry, reflecting the potential
importance of space to the general economy. France accounts for 40-45% of
European space spending. The French government advisory body has also urged
the merger of the nation’s civil and military space hardware procurement
agencies, DGA and CNES as part of an emerging European trend in which
governments are no longer worried about distinguishing between different
types of security applications. The combined entity would eliminate
occasional duplication in space procurement between the two, and would focus
on ensuring that France, or at least Europe, is not dependent on anyone else
for strategic space technologies including satellite and rocket gyroscopes,
radiation hardened satellite electronic components and rocket fuel. These
concerns have risen with the clampdown on foreign access to US space
technology since 1999. Europe’s multibillion-euro Galileo satellite
navigation constellation project, approved in part to free Europe from
dependence on the American GPS, is itself dependent on US technology for
several satellite components, at least as currently designed. Among the
consequences of that dependence is that Galileo spacecraft cannot be
launched on Chinese rockets because the US government will not permit it,
according to a US State department official. [Aviation Week & Space
Technology, Space News 06/28/2004]


US and French armed-forces officials agreed that a capacity to survey what
is going on in Earth orbit is a high priority for their nations. “It’s just
as important as building space-based military assets”. The June 29 debate at
France’s Ecole Militaire to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the French air
force highlighted the different logics that guide France, which is Europe’s
biggest space power, and the United States, whose military space program is
at least 10 times as big as Europe’s. French air force Commander Christophe
Morand said that France would continue to work through the United Nations to
secure Antarctic-type protected status for space that would forbid weapons
from being stationed. On a parallel track, France is urging its European
partners to invest in a space-surveillance system to assure that no one is
violating the expected UN treaty. The current French ground-based GRAVES
radar is only the first element of a larger hoped-to-be European system.
General Darnell, commander of the Space Warfare Center at Schriever Air
Force Base in Colorado said that the US couldn’t assume anymore that
whenever there is a problem in orbit, it is a malfunction. “Space situation
awareness is our first priority”. France is concerned about falling too far
behind the US in the development of military-space capabilities. “It is not
healthy to have such a large gap in capabilities among allies. And of
course, the French have always been concerned about preserving their
strategic autonomy”. [Space News 05/07/2004]


At the invitation of ESA and CNES, the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR)
is holding its 35th Scientific Assembly in Paris from 19 to 25 July. As
happens every two years, scientists from all over the world are attending to
take stock of their research findings. Set up in 1958 at the dawn of the
space age, COSPAR is an interdisciplinary science committee focusing on all
research activities that deploy space systems – from balloons to satellites.
The unprecedented harvest of data gathered by Mars probes – ESA’s Mars
Express orbiter, NASA’s Spirit and Opportunity rovers – provide stimulating
input for many of the presentations and discussions, as do the first results
from the Cassini-Huygens duo entering orbit around Saturn and those of
Europe’s Smart-1 probe heading for the Moon. This year, a major delegation
is expected from China, the venue for the 2006 Assembly being Beijing. This
will provide an opportunity to take stock of China’s advances in space in
areas as diverse as crewed flight (less than a year after its very first
national mission), the material sciences and near-Earth studies. And as the
COSPAR proceedings draw to a close, China will be preparing to launch its
second Tan Ce satellite flying ESA instruments under the joint Double Star
programme, adding to the observation being done by ESA’s Cluster
constellation in the terrestrial magnetosphere. [ESA 07/16/2004, AFP

** 6: IN BRIEF

The French Space Agency’s (CNES) first microsat, Demeter, was successfully
launched a top of Russian Dnepr rocket. Demeter will study electromagnetic
perturbations created by earthquakes (France in Space #260 Article 4).
Operations should start early August. [CNES 06/29/2004]
Another turning point in European space is taking place in Brussels. The
European Commission Research Directorate which ostensibly has no role in
military research, has begun a three-year security-related program budgeted
at 65 MEuros with the expectation that this budget will multiply tenfold
starting in 2007. The European Space Agency, although they cannot legally
yet work on any defense related issue because of its constitution, is aiming
at the EU security budget. [Aviation Week & Space Technology, Space News

The European Union plans to subsidize about a third of the operating costs
of a satellite system that EADS, Alcatel and Eutelsat are competing to
launch and run with partners. The European Commission earmarked an average
of 71 million euros ($88 million) a year for the Galileo road, rail, ship
and air-traffic control network in EU budget proposals for 2007-2013. The
30-satellite network, planned to vie with the U.S. global positioning system
as of 2008, is projected to cost 220 million euros a year to operate.
[European Commission 07/15/2004]

An Ariane 5G lifted off from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou on July 18th,
French Guiana. On board was the largest telecommunications satellite ever
launched. The satellite was successfully placed into geostationary orbit
around 28 minutes after liftoff. [ESA 07/18/2004]

The cryogenic upper stage to be used in a planned October demonstration
flight of the enhanced Ariane 5 rocket variant has left Germany for a
two-week trip by ship to the equatorial Guiana Space Center launch base. The
stage never got the chance to perform in December 2002 maiden-flight failure
of the new-generation Ariane 5 ECA. The new Ariane 5 will be capable of
placing two satellites weighing a combined 9,000 to 10,000 kilograms into a
geostationary orbit compared to 6,000 kilograms for the standard version
Ariane 5. [Space News 06/28/2004]

The French government will get 1.45 BEuros (1.74 B$) from Snecma’s newly
completed initial public offering, which is significantly less than
expected. The IPO was oversubscribed, and 800,000 investors now own 35% of
the French propulsion group. [Aviation Week & Space Technology 06/28/2004]
The European Space Agency has agreed to release about 200 MEuros for the ISS
utilization phase. The funds were the final installment in a funding package
frozen after the ESA ministerial summit in November 2001 while ISS manning
issues were resolved. Most of the money is earmarked for a second ATV space
tug to serve the station and long-lead items for a third. The agency has
also acknowledged that delays in ISS completion would probably force it to
seek a commercial customer for a second flight to qualify the Ariane 5 ECA
heavy-lift launcher. This flight had been manifested for the ATV. [Aviation
Week & Space Technology 07/05/2004]

Eumetsat’s member governments have agreed to commit more than 200 M$ in
additional funding for the organization 2 B$ METOP polar-orbiting
meteorological satellite program to accommodate any possible technology
glitches or other hiccups in the program. [Space News 07/19/2004]

The NASA/ESA/ASI Cassini-Huygens spacecraft entered orbit around Saturn on 1
July, crossing twice the planet’s rings. The data collected showed that this
delicate and risky maneuver proved harmless for all instruments on board and
mission control specialists gave Huygens a perfect bill of health.
Cassini-Huygens crossed the rings with its four-metre wide high-gain antenna
facing forward, acting like a shield, and more than 100 000 hits were
recorded in less than five minutes. Huygens, however, was well protected by
its thick heat shield, an even better dust shield than the high-gain
antenna. Thus, the probability that some stray particles hitting Huygens
might have damaged its delicate instruments was practically negligible. [ESA

Mr Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA Director General, and Mr Dimitris Sioufas,
Minister for Development, signed the Agreement on Greece’s accession to the
ESA Convention, at the Agency’s Paris Headquarters. Greece formally applied
to join ESA in September 2003. Under the Accession Agreement, it will become
a full member state by December 2005 at the latest, following a transition
period. [ESA 07/19/2004]

EADS Astrium signed a new contract for the manufacturing and operation of a
new earth observation satellite: ThEOS (Thailand Earth Observation
Satellite). ThEOS will assist Thailand in mastering its agriculture policy
with a better production follow-up and an improved natural disaster
management (wildfire, flooding). [La Tribune 07/19/2004]

[From AFP, Air & Cosmos, Alcatel, Arianespace, Aviation Week & Space
Technology, Cercle Finance, CNES, EADS Astrium, EADS Space, ESA, Le Figaro,
Launch Services Alliance, La Lettre de l’Expansion, NASA, Reuters, Space
News,, 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, Valery Tessier-Leon

France In Space is available online at you will find there the
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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

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SpaceRef staff editor.