Status Report

France in Space #303

By SpaceRef Editor
August 4, 2005
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The initial operations of the European Geostationnary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) have begun with the transfer of the responsibility for providing signal and data from the European Space Agency (ESA) to the operator, the European Satellite Services Provider (ESSP). The EGNOS programme completed on June 16 the “Operational Readiness Review” milestone (cf France in Space No 299 article 2). The transition from development to operation is a key step for the progression of European satellite navigation and paves the way for the future European global positioning system Galileo.

ESSP is composed of air navigation service providers from Spain, Germany, France, Italy, United Kingdom, Portugal and Switzerland. In charge of operating the system and providing EGNOS safety critical services, ESSP will now work towards the certification of the system by national regulatory authorities, like those related to civil aviation, in order to make the service available in early 2006. [ESA 07/28/2005]


Jean-Jacques Dordain, Director-General of ESA announced that the agency is evaluating different scenarios for the International Space Station (ISS) assembly completion, including one in which the Space Shuttle could not launch the European Columbus module. This science laboratory, a major European contribution to the ISS program, is completed and in storage at EADS Space Transportation’s facilities in Germany. ESA has already spent 300 million euros in delay-related costs of the Columbus’s launch and is concerned that these costs arise since the launch of the module is likely to happen in 2007. The ESA study is also considering the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) program and how the cargo vehicle will be used to access and deliver supplies and equipment to the ISS. [Space News 08/01/2005]


Since the last Ariane 5 ECA flight in February 2005, Arianespace has faced some satellite- and launcher-related delays. Still the company anticipates four more launches before the end of the year. One technical problem on Ariane 5 was related to the MMH (MonoMethyl Hydrazine) second-stage propellant, which necessitated removing the second stage of the Ariane 5 launcher on the pad and replacing it.

Three missions are currently planned with the generic version of Ariane 5: the launch of the iPSTAR/Thaicom4 broadband satellite is set up for August 11; the French Syracuse 3A military telecommunications satellite together with PanAmSat’s Galaxy 15 telecommunications satellite in September at the latest, as requires the French Defense Ministry; Eumetsat’s MSG-2 meteorological satellite together with the Indian Insat 4A telecommunications spacecraft probably in December.

Moreover, the next Ariane 5 ECA flight will put into orbit the Telkom-2 and Spaceway 2 satellites respectively used for telecommunications and HDTV (High-Definition TeleVision). Telkom-2, which returned to Orbital Sciences facilities for modification, is expected to the Guyana Space Centre in Kourou in August, and the launch date has still to be determined. [Space News 08/01/2005]


In order to slim down the production process, from both the industrial and economic standpoint, necessary measures have been implemented to reduce Ariane 5 manufacturing costs and secure its position on the competitive market for commercial launch services. The Ariane production was restructured by making EADS Space Transportation (EADS-ST) the sole prime contractor and became effective shortly after being adopted by the ESA council of ministers in May 2003, when Arianespace and EADS signed the PA batch contract.

Implementation of the contract is underway with launcher No. 527, the first of the PA batch, currently in production and expected to be ready for launch by the end of 2005.

EADS-ST is responsible for handing over an integrated, tested launch vehicle to Arianespace in Kourou, where only payload integration remains to be done. The company aims to reduce production costs by 30 percent with this streamlined production structure. In addition, this global approach allows orders placed by sub-contractors to be bundled together to obtain a lower price.

The new batch of 30 launch vehicles, the largest since the order of 50 Ariane 4 rockets in 1989, ensures the Ariane line will remain viable until 2009. The Ariane 5 production set-up was originally characterized by a complex division of responsibilities between ESA, CNES, Arianespace and EADS-ST. [Planet Aerospace July-Aug-Sept 2005]


One of the two Galileo satellites currently under development, GSTB-V2/A, has arrived at ESA’s European Space Research and Technology Center to undergo testing on behalf of the spacecraft manufacturer (cf France in Space No.298 article 3). The tests include: space environment simulation, solar array deployment, shock and vibration, acoustic and electromagnetic compatibility. The satellite has been readied to start thermal vacuum and thermal balance testing. GSTB-V2/B is expected to be transferred to ESTEC for the same series of tests in the fall. [ESA 08/02/2005]

** 6: IN BRIEF

The French Ministry of Defense recently announced its intention to launch a demonstrator programme for ballistic missile upper stages. Its objective is to design a future third stage based on a new architecture and using new guidance and propulsion technologies as well as better structural materials. EADS Space Transportation is prime contractor for the program and will work in partnership with SNECMA-SNPE, Sagem and Thales. [EADS Space Transportation 07/27/2005]

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.