Status Report

France in Space #295

By SpaceRef Editor
May 25, 2005
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The CALIPSO (Cloud-Aerosol LIdar Infrared Pathfinder Satellites Observations) satellite was shipped May 18 from Alcatel Space facilities in Cannes, France to Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The launch is scheduled this summer aboard a Boeing Delta 2 rocket with its co passenger, NASA’s CloudSat satellite. CALIPSO has been developed through collaboration between NASA, the French Space Agency (CNES), the French Institute Pierre Simon Laplace and Hampton University in Virginia. CNES provided for a Proteus platform built by Alcatel Space, the imaging infrared radiometer, while the main instrument LIDAR (Light Detection And Ranging), was developed by NASA and Ball Aerospace.

CALIPSO and CloudSat will complement the other three Earth Observing System satellites of NASA’s A-Train from which the French micro satellite Parasol is part since December 2004 (cf. France In Space No 280 article 3). CALIPSO’s polarization LIDAR instrument can, in particular, differentiate ice and water in clouds as well as between liquid and solid particles in aerosols. This will allow for new insight into dynamics and properties of clouds and aerosols and for better estimation of their influence on Earth’s radiance balance.

This Franco-American project related to sustainable development marks a new step in the cooperation in Earth Observation, a domain of major achievements between the two countries. [CNES 05/23/2005, Space News 05/23/2005, NASA 05/16/2005]


The NOAA-N satellite, equipped especially with the second-generation Argos and Sarsat instruments, was placed into polar geosynchronous orbit on May 20 by a Delta 2 launcher from Vandenberg Air Force in California. CNES is the prime contractor of both Argos and Sarsat systems and is overseeing the development of ground and flight components.

Operational since 1978, the Argos system is dedicated to environmental data collection, as for instance wildlife tracking. It is operated by CNES subsidiary, CLS.

Based on similar technical features as Argos, the Sarsat system is underway since 1982 in association with the Russian Cospas system. The Cospas-Sarsat system provides search and rescue assistance and is designed to locate distress calls from aircrafts, ships and land mobiles anywhere in the world. Since the launch of the first instruments, this location system has provided assistance in rescuing more than 17,000 persons over 4,800 incidents. [CNES 05/23/2005,]


The launch of the first European Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) called Jules Verne is now scheduled for 2006. The spaceship will supply the International Space Station (ISS) and its crew with about seven tonnes of cargo. ESA (European Space Agency), NASA (National Aeronautics & Space Administration) and Russian counterparts are currently defining the appropriate combination of different supplies for this inaugural flight, including re-boost propellant, life support components, logistics items and experiments.

As the first priority, propellant will represent one third of the payload. For this demonstration flight, extra fuel will be supplied to test several scenarios and rendezvous manoeuvres. Moreover, NASA will supply equipments for the crew and logistics items such as batteries and components for maintenance of the ISS, while Russia will provide for additional hardware to be added to its Service Module. Some ESA experiments are also planned to be launched including ANITA (ANalysing InTerferometer for Ambient air) which will constantly monitor the cabin atmosphere. [ESA 05/19/2005]


Through the Galileo Masters competition, the European Space Agency (ESA) aims at encouraging European small businesses as well as academia and research institutes to think up new satellite navigation applications for Galileo, Europe’s coming global navigation system. The 2005 competition, especially sponsored by ESA’s European Space Incubator and under the patronage of the Bavarian Minister for Economic Affairs Dr Otto Wiesheu, will focus on seven high-tech regions across Europe: London (UK), Gothenburg (Sweden), Nice-Sophia Antipolis (France), the Czech Republic, Varese (Italy), South-Holland (the Netherlands) and Munich (Germany). The overall winner will receive a prize estimated to about 50,000 euros. According to the organisers of this initiative, over 400 million satellite navigation users will have created more than 100,000 new jobs by 2015 within the European aerospace and electronics industry. [ESA 05/24/2005]


CNES President, Yannick d’Escatha, and French Secretary of State for Land Planning, Frédéric de Saint-Sernin, have announced the selection of four French municipalities to test out CNES’s communications-enabled village concept. Using satellite technologies combined with terrestrial components like Wi-Fi (Wireless-Fidelity) and Power Line Carrier (PLC), this experiment will bring broadband communications services to these pilot villages, fulfilling CNES’s mission to make the applications of space technologies available to all and contributing to bridge the digital divide. All located in south-western France, the four villages will be equipped with a single satellite antenna providing a broadband Internet connection. [CNES 05/20/2005]

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.