Status Report

France in Space #314

By SpaceRef Editor
November 17, 2005
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An Ariane 5 ECA vehicle successfully launched two telecommunication satellites, Spaceway 2 for DirecTV and Telkom 2 for PT Telkom, on November 16th. The combined mass of the two satellites, over 8 tons, makes this launch the heaviest payload ever put into orbit by a European launcher. Arianespace’s CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall affirmed that this launch clearly demonstrates the heavy-lift capability of Ariane 5 “10 ton” version and paves the way for a rate of 5 or 6 Ariane 5 ECA launches next year. The Ariane 5 ECA successfully returned to flight last February 2005 after its inaugural launch failed in late 2002. Weighing over 6 tons, the Spaceway 2 satellite is one of the heaviest commercial telecommunications payloads launched to date. It was built by Boeing for the American operator DirecTV to provide high-definition TV and broadband services over the United States. The 2-ton Telkom 2 satellite, built by Orbital Sciences, will be operated by Indonesian company PT Telkom. [Le Monde 11/17/2005]


France plans on proposing the new project Emergesat at this month’s World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis, Tunisia. The Emergesat project was born from the desire to develop and promote innovative technological tools to aid in the coordination and efficient handling of international humanitarian relief work. CNES, international industry (such as Alcatel), as well as various humanitarian and non-governmental agencies, all worked together in developing the program. Emergesat will unite space-based technologies, such as telecommunication, observation, and localization/navigation as well as ground-based technologies like Wi-Fi, WiMAX and GSM. Its goal is to synchronize international assistance during the initial crisis stage of a catastrophe.

Emergesat will offer four types of service: 1. medical assistance (identifying victims, tracking of epidemics); 2. resource management (food, water, logistical equipment); 3. civil engineering emergency management (identification of major and urgent repairs of roads, bridges, rails or buildings); 4. population support (census taking, managing the death toll, aiding in locating the missing).

Because of Emergesat’s federate nature, France is open to cooperating with and creating international partnerships in order to offer this innovative tool to the entire world.

[Le Figaro 11/15/05] For more information:


CNES has selected Thales Group of France to supply the image ground segment, image processing chain and ground based encryption/decryption system for the French government’s Pleiades remote-sensing satellite program. The contract, valued at 16 million euros ($19.1 million), stipulates that Thales will design and install the equipment that will receive, store and process approximately 1000 Pleiades satellite images per day from ground facilities around the world. Two Pleiades satellites, scheduled to be launched in 2008 – 09, will provide imagery with a 70-centimeter ground resolution. The French government also envisages marketing some of the imagery commercially. [Space News 10/31/05, Aviation Week & Space Technology 11/7/05]


The first test satellite of the Galileo program, named GIOVE or “Galileo In-Orbit Validation Element”, is scheduled to be launched by the end of December 2005. The first of two test satellites (GIOVE A and GIOVE B), will be launched by a Soyuz rocket from Baikonur. GIOVE B will be launched later in 2006. The launch of the GIOVE satellites A and B signal the start of the in-orbit validation of the Galileo program. The two will be joined by four other satellites which are set to be launched in 2008. GIOVE and its four successors will pave the way for the installation of the complete Galileo constellation of 30 satellites. [Agence France Presse 11/9/05, ESA 11/9/05]


The European spacecraft Venus Express was successfully launched on November 9th from Baikonur via a Soyuz rocket. It is now on its way to the planet Venus which it should reach by next April. Using technology largely based on the Mars Express spacecraft, the 1240 kg mass Venus Express was constructed in an amazing 28 months by EADS Astrium. Alcatel Alenia worked on the assembly, integration and the trials at its site in Turin, Italy. With the help of the seven instruments it carries on board, the probe will study in detail the structure, chemistry and dynamics of the planet’s atmosphere which may give us more insight to our own planet; scientists believe that Venus may have once closely resembled Earth.

Currently ESA has spacecraft orbiting the Moon (Smart-1) and Mars (Mars Express), as well as the probe Rosetta which is on its way towards the comet Tchourioumov-Guerassimenko. [Air & Cosmos 11/11/05, ESA 11/9/05]


EADS Space Transportation has revealed that its role in the Lockheed Martin consortium to develop the CEV (Crew Exploration Vehicle) is in doubt. Lockheed Martin’s CEV program manager, Cleon Lacefield, has confirmed that EADS will not be involved in Phase 1 of the CEV program. EADS’ involvement in the Lockheed Martin team competing for the CEV contract against Northrop Grumman/Boeing was first announced in January. EADS remains hopeful that both NASA and Lockheed Martin will reconsider their role in the program. [Flight International 11/15/05]

** 7: IN BRIEF:

After several delays, that set the MSG-2 satellite’s launch back by one year, Europe’s Eumestat meteorological satellite organization has begun the final preparations necessary for launch. The MSG-2 satellite will be launched along with India’s Insat 4A satellite, via an Ariane 5 Generic Version vehicle, by the end of December. The Ariane 5 launcher’s upper stage has been reinforced to reduce the amount of shock the satellite will encounter as the rocket lifts-off and leaves the Earth’s atmosphere; this will protect the satellite’s sensitive instruments. [Space News 11/7/05]

Claudie Haigneré, former Minister of research and Minister of European Affairs, has been named to the European Space Agency (ESA). At 48 years old, the former astronaut and doctor of science will fill the position of Advisor to the General Director. [Le Figaro 11/15/05]


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, Noëlle Miliard

France In Space is available online at There you will find the current issue, subscription and un-subscription forms, as well as the archives with a search engine.

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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.