Status Report

France in Space #300

By SpaceRef Editor
June 29, 2005
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The European Union (EU) accepted the Eurely-iNavSat common bid for the 3.2 billion euros contract to run the Galileo satellite navigation system. While the two consortiums had previously submitted individual proposals, they finally decided to join their forces after the Galileo Joint Undertaking (GJU), the ESA/EU body in charge of awarding the satellite contract, failed in March to select one bid (cf France in Space No 285 article 1). According to Rainer Grohe, GJU’s executive director, “the joint proposal clearly showed better value for the public, which is the overriding criterion in the decision-making process”. In addition, the European Commissioner for Transport, Jacques Barrot, highlighted that the joint bid forecasts allows for more commercial revenues –a 20% increase- than each of the individual initial offers.

This EU decision is expected to ease political debates and help the project move forward. Mr. Grohe announced that the contract should be finalized by the end of 2005 as originally planned. However, some discussions led by Germany are still ongoing concerning the amount of business returning to national industrial companies in regards to the nation’s investment in the Galileo program. Furthermore, the different actors of this public-private partnership have still to reach a final agreement on how the funding will be distributed as well as on insurance and risks sharing issues. [The Wall Street Journal 06/28/2005, Les Echos 06/28/2005, Herald Tribune 06/28/2005]


The seventh European Interparliamentary Space Conference (EISC) was held in Paris on June 16-18, gathering 50 parliamentary members from 17 countries as well as representatives of 9 major space agencies. The purpose of the conference was to encourage the construction of a competitive European space policy in the framework of international cooperation.

Among others conclusions, the EISC showed its strong support for the GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) initiative and recommended that the European Commission and the European Space Agency (ESA) choose as soon as possible a prime contractor to launch the GMES operations. The panel also highlighted the importance of the project regarding the International Charter “Space and Major Disasters” as well as the international initiative for a Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS). Thus, it called for a broader cooperation with Brazil, Canada, China, India, Japan, Russia and United States.

Regarding space exploration, the EICS recommended that European actors continue the dialog with the United States, Russia and others partners, in order to formulate an ambitious proposal for cooperation in the framework of the American Exploration initiative, including an autonomous capacity to go the Moon as well as robotic flights and space sciences missions. Calling for a significant increase of Europe’s Space budget by 2013, the EICS requested a strong support to new high technology initiatives and R&D programs in the European space sector.

The EISC was co-organized by the French GPE (Parliamentary Sapce Committee) and the German Bundestag. The 2006 session will be held in Brussels. [EISC 06/23/2005]


The 5th French Japanese symposium on cooperation in Space was held in Paris on June 15-17. The conference, which gathered representatives from CNES, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), research institutions and the industry, focused on their roles and their partnerships in a stronger French Japanese cooperation framework.

Both agencies agreed to consider space technologies and applications as an enabler to serve citizens in several ways, supporting life quality, economical growth, environment protection and sustainable development. More specifically, a panel dedicated to Earth Observation decided to consolidate the French-Japanese cooperation axis for a threefold purpose: examining a joint mission for disasters surveillance, establishing a common approach for the implementation of GEOSS and further developing the EarthCare project.

In addition, France and Japan agreed to focus their cooperation in space transportation on flight demonstrators like Pre-X and new generation concepts. As for the utilization of the International Space Station, CNES and JAXA identified potential cooperation areas in preparation for human exploration of the Moon and Mars, one of them being the joint development of key components of a future life-support system.

Finally, a common approach for the utilization of space commercial components as well as for long-term vision of both space agencies was strongly supported by French and Japanese representatives. [CNES 06/24/2005]


On June 14, CNES and the Brazilian Space Agency signed a cooperation agreement concerning the Brazilian participation in the French Corot mission, dedicated to stellar seismology and extra solar planet search. Under the agreement, Brazil will provide ground facilities for data reception from French Corot satellite through its Alcantara station and will contribute to the development of the ground segment in France and Spain. In addition, Brazilian astronomers involved in the observation programs will participate in mission-related activities in CNES and CNRS (French Centre for the Scientific Research) laboratories.

The Corot satellite, jointly developed by CNES and CNRS, is set to be launched mid-2006 aboard a Soyuz launcher from Baikonour. Besides Brazil, the other partners on the mission are European Space Agency, Germany, Belgium and Spain. [Air&Cosmos 06/17/2005, CNES Mag 06/2005]


The Express AM3 satellite was successfully launched on June 24 on a Proton launch vehicle from the Baikonour space center in Kazakhstan. Alcatel Space supplied the payloads for the satellite, built by the Russian prime contractor NPO-PM, dedicated to provide digital TV and radio broadcasting, telephony, data transmission channels, videoconferencing and Internet access. Alcatel Space has established a long-term manufacturing partnership with NPO-PM who will team up once again for the next Express AM33 and AM44 satellites, under a contract signed recently between the two companies (cf France In Space No 279 – article 5). The three Express A satellites as well as the AM11, AM12 and AM2 spacecrafts are currently in orbit carrying Alcatel Space communications payloads. [Alcatel Space 06/27/2005]

** 6: IN BRIEF

Following the deployment of the final boom on its MARSIS instrument (Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding), Europe’s Mars Express orbiter is ready to start its analysis of the surface of the red planet. Among the primary objectives of the instrument is the attempt to detect underground water ice and to characterise terrains underneath layers of sediments. [ESA 06/22/2005]

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.