Status Report

France in Space #289

By SpaceRef Editor
April 13, 2005
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At a press conference last month, Mrs. Caroline Laurent, director of the Syracuse program at the Délégation Générale pour l’Armement (DGA), indicated the launch of Syracuse 3A onboard an Ariane 5 rocket from the Space Center in Kourou, French Guyana, was delayed due to “technical problems”. The manufacturer, Alcatel, is currently performing final testing of the satellite at its facilities in Cannes. The actual launch date is still to be determined. The development cost of the Syracuse 3 program totals 2.3 million Euros over a period of 15 years. This includes the launch of two satellites, Syracuse 3A in 2005 and Syracuse 3B in 2006 and the construction of some 540 receiving stations by the Thales group.

The Syracuse system was put in place in 1985 and multiple versions have since been developped. But for the first time, the system will be exclusive to the military. (Syracuse 1 and 2 payloads were integrated to France Telecom satellites. Syracuse 1 reached end-of-life in 1994, and Syracuse 2 is still operational.)

Syracuse 3 adds to the military’s information and intelligence capacities. The new system will be more accessible while ensuring greater protection of the communications.

France may allow some allies to use Syracuse 3A. “Syracuse 3 was developped nationally but its utilisation will be possible with European cooperation and NATO”, Mrs. Laurent said, adding “that communication capabilities using Syracuse 3 will be granted to Germany and NATO.” [AFP 03/16/2005]


French Research Minister François d’Aubert announced his space spending plan for 2005-2010. The overall envelope is worth 8.27 billion euros for this period. The 2005 space budget of Ministry of Research is 1366 million euros, including 681 provided for the national program and 685 as the French contribution to ESA (European Space Agency). The national program budget line will increase by 1.5 percent per year until 2010 while the ESA contribution is to remain stable. [Air&Cosmos 04/08/2005, Council of Ministers – François d’Aubert 03/30/2005]


The French Ministry of Defense plans to spend 3.6 billion euros for space programs for the period 2005-2010. 631 million euros will be awarded for 2005, with the biggest contribution going to the Syracuse 3 program (366 million euros). The French military space budget remains stable in comparison to the previous years. Furthermore, the French government announced that in every one of CNES’s priority areas – navigation, telecommunications, launch vehicle development, environmental monitoring and scientific research – “the Ministry of Defense will take part in the program planning… to develop the dual-use – civil and military- nature of the approved programs.” [Air&Cosmos 04/08/2005, Space News 04/04/2005]


The European Commission presented on April 6 its 7th Framework Program on Research, Technological Development and Demonstration Activities to European Heads of State and the European Parliament for the period 2007-2013. As part of an overall Research budget of 73.2 billion euros, about 3.9 billion will be devoted to security-related Space programs. The Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) program is the Commission’s highest space-research priority. The space-related portion of the total Research budget could come out to roughly 400 million euros per year, whereas the 6th Framework Program, which ends in 2006, featured a space budget totalling 235 million euros over its five-year duration. [Space News 04/11/2005]


CNES and ISA (Israel Space Agency) have signed an agreement on Earth observation and technology development. Under this agreement, the Vegetation and Environment Monitoring New Micro-Satellite (VEN?S) mission will be operated until 2008 (cf. France in Space No 288, article 7). This research mission is aimed at demonstrating the efficiency of optimized multi-spectral observation in the framework of the European Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) program. It will cover everyday 50 representative sites of the world’s main terrestrial and coastal ecosystems in 12 spectral bands in the visible and near-infrared regions. France will be responsible for the science mission centre, scientific data processing centre, programming centre, and the payload. [CNES-ISA Press release 04/12/2005]


A ceremony took place at the site of SNECMA Moteurs in Vernon, France, to celebrate the beginning of industrial production of the Vulcain 2 engine. Present at the ceremony were the French Minister for Industry, Patrick Devedjian and SNECMA Chief Executive Jean-Paul Béchat. The Vulcain 2 engine is used for the main stage of the Ariane 5 ECA launcher, whose qualification flight on February 12 was a complete success. Vulcain 2 will also propel the Ariane 5 ES ATV launcher, designed to deliver the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) to the International Space Station. [ 04/06/2005]

** 7: IN BRIEF

After the successful in-orbit deployment and checkout of the Helios-2A satellite, the French procurement agency DGA (Délégation Générale de l’Armement) has transferred this military space surveillance system to the French, Belgian and Spanish military Headquarters which have participated in the program. [French Defense Ministry 04/07/2005]

CNES and the Spanish National Aerospace Technology Institute (INTA) have signed a cooperation agreement on French Pleiades high-resolution optical satellite imaging system. The Spanish government will invest 16.5 million euros (21.2 million dollars) for a 3 percent stake in Pleiades. In return for its investment, INTA will receive imagery and distribute it to defense and civilian users through a dedicated Spanish ground station. [Space News 04/11/2005]

The space technology company OHB-System based in Bremen, Germany, has been awarded a contract by U.S. satellite operator ORBCOMM to participate in the development and construction of an ORBCOMM satellite. Its launch is planned in 2006 and it will in particular carry a U.S. Coast guard payload. OHB is in charge of integrating and testing the satellite. [OHB-System 03/17/2005]

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: Jean-Jacques Tortora, Clémence Le Fèvre

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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 activities”.


SpaceRef staff editor.