Status Report

France in Space #317

By SpaceRef Editor
December 7, 2005
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After only a day and a half of negotiations, the Ministers meeting at ESA’s ruling Council (held in Berlin, December 5th & 6th, 2005), found consensus on a number of hot-button topics and thus made important decisions for the future of European Space policy. In particular, the Ministers agreed to give priority to European launchers when launching ESA funded satellites. This step is aimed at guaranteeing Europe’s autonomy in the Space sector in regards to both launchers and satellites. The Ministers also made key decisions concerning Earth observation missions and the scientific activities they support. The green-light was given to begin part of the GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) program, and it looks as though the budget will allow a second Cryosat to be built and launched (the first, conceived to monitor the polar ice caps, crashed during launch). The ExoMars mission, scheduled to land on Mars in 2011 in search of traces of life, was also accepted by the Ministers. And finally, a consensus in regards to the use of the ISS over the next three years was found which will guarantee Europe’s participation in the program but also allow for potential modifications to the policy in the future. [French Ministry of Higher Education and Research 12/6/05, Les Echos 12/5/05]


The European Union Member States involved in the Galileo concession contract have agreed on the location of the different facilities required for the future system operations. The administrative headquarters will be located in Toulouse, France with responsibilities regarding financial and legal affairs, procurement, business development, marketing, system engineering and some security issues. The operational headquarters will be located in London, UK. Germany and Italy will host the two control and evaluation centers while Spain will host a redundant control center as well as an agency responsible for one of Galileo’s services. [International Herald Tribune 12/6/05, Les Echos 12/6/05]


The Prime Minister of China, Wen Jiabo, the Prime Minister of France, Dominique de Villepin, Zhang Hainan, the President of ChinaSatcom, Serge Tchuruk, Chairman and CEO of Alcatel, and Pascale Sourisse, President and CEO of Alcatel Alenia Space, were all on hand in Paris for the signature of an important contract between Alcatel Alenia Space and ChinaSatcom. Alcatel Alenia Space will design and build the communication and broadcasting satellite, Chinasat 6B, for ChinaSatcom. ChinaSatcom Corporation will thus reinforce the services it offers in China. This is the second contract Alcatel Alenia Space has signed with this Chinese satellite operator (the first was Chinasat 9 in 2004), and it is the fourth signed with a Chinese company. [Alcatel 12/5/05]


The Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionospheric Sounding (MARSIS) gave the first direct information about Mars deep surface ever. Scientists have identified a region of potential buried basin in the mid-latitudes of Mars that could contain a thick layer of material rich in water-ice. They are now expecting to detect other hidden impact craters on the planet, which could lead them to reconsider their models of formation and evolution of the Mars surface. Moreover, MARSIS detected around the Martian North pole two interior layers: one cold water-ice layer over than one kilometer thick and a deeper layer of basaltic regolith. These results will help scientists to better understand the Mars intern geology. [ESA 11/30/2005]


EADS Space, subsidiary of the European group EADS, announced Friday December 2nd, 2005, that it is restructuring and will phase out 700 jobs over the next three years (starting in 2006). The cuts will take place in their research departments and will affect 500 subcontractors and 200 internal employees. They do not however foresee any layoffs. The reduction was deemed necessary as the launch industry has seen an important decrease in new projects and is also confronted with the end of the developmental phase of three big programs: Ariane 5, the ATV transport vehicle and the M51 ballistic missile. The news came on the heels of another EADS Space announcement. EADS Space has finalized its acquisition of Dutch Space, which specializes in robotics and solar panels. [Agence France Presse 12/2/05, Le Monde 12/3/05]

** 6: IN BRIEF

The launch of the first Galileo test satellite of the Galileo program, named GIOVE A or “Galileo In-Orbit Validation Element”, built by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd, is scheduled December 26 onboard a Soyuz/Fregat vehicle from Baikonur. GIOVE B, developed by the European consortium Galileo Industries, will be launched in 2006. The objectives of the GIOVE satellites include demonstrating technologies that will be used for the Galileo operational system as well as securing the Galileo frequency filings. [ESA 11/30/2005]


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, Noëlle Miliard

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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.