Status Report

France in Space #326

By SpaceRef Editor
February 16, 2006
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Yannick D’Escatha, President of CNES, and his Russian homologue Anatoly Perminov, Director General of Roscomos, met on February 14 to sign a protocol agreement for the OURAL launcher program. The two met as part of the 11th annual gathering of the Franco-Russian Commission on cooperation. The OURAL program relates to the work done by the two countries in the development of technology for future launchers. The objective is to have developed, by 2020, a new launch system through the European and Russian partnership. The future rockets will be used for launching payloads, for transportation and for maintenance of satellites, space engines and orbiting stations. With the signature of the protocol, Mr. D’Escatha and Mr. Perminov approve of the work that has been done thus far and accept the propositions made by the CNES – Roscosmos working group concerning the activities planned for 2006. The OURAL program is seen as a way of bridging the cap between the two different cultures in order to facilitate future collaborations. [CNES 02/14/06]

In related news, Jean-Yves Le Gall, Chief Executive Officer of Arianespace and Anatoly Perminov of Roscosmos signed in Moscow on the same day the supply contract for the first four Soyuz launch vehicles that will be launched from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou starting in 2008. This new agreement strengthens and consolidates the Euro-Russian cooperation which is now structured in a two-pronged approach. The first axis concerns the launches from Baikonur which are under the responsibility of Starsem, operated in equal parts by the subsidiary EADS/Arianespace and Russian partners. And the second axis regards launches from the Guiana Space Center, operated by Arianespace and for which a launch pad is now being built. The first Soyuz launch from Kourou is scheduled for November 2008. [Arianespace 02/14/06]


A team of international astronomers, including French scientists from the Astro-particles and Cosmology Laboratory (Paris VII University and the French National Research Center) have discovered an unexpected source of high-energy cosmic rays. The observations were made using the High Energy Stereoscopic System (HESS), a network of four telescopes installed in December 2003 in Namibia. The exact cause of the cosmic rays remains unknown but scientists speculate that the may be the “left-overs” of a supernova or even the result of complex processes taking place around a massive black hole at the heart of our galaxy. In order to actually observe this phenomenon the scientists had to be very patient and used only the most precise equipment. Even though these photons contain much more energy than those in the visible realm, they are much more rare; there are only a few per minute per hectare. They create a flash of bluish light that only lasts 2 to 3 billionths of a second, flashes that are so imperceptible that only the HESS can track them. [Le Monde 02/11/06]


While in Washington, DC for the Satellite 2006 conference, Jean-Yves Le Gall, Chief Executive Officer of Arianespace, announced that the company has secured two more contracts from a satellite operator that wishes to remain anonymous. Le Gall also confirmed that Starsem, Arianespace’s Russo-European subsidiary, has signed a contract with the Canadian company MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates for the launch of the Earth observation satellite Radarsat-2. He stated that the market for commercial satellite launches is once again on the right track and that there could be as many as twenty to twenty-five contracts signed in 2006. He believes that the Ariane 5 will be able to handle seven launches per year and hopes to bring in five to six commands this year. [La Tribune 02/09/06]


More money has been given this year for the development of CNES’ Research and Technology activities; the budget has grown from 22.6 million euros in 2005 to 25.4 million euros for 2006. A total of 3.1 million euros (from this budget) will be put towards the preparation of future Earth observation systems for the Ministry of Defense (programs post-Helios-2). The total budget may even be as large as 50 million euros if one takes into consideration Human Resources in the research laboratories and industrial co-financing of various projects. CNES’ participation in the European Space Agency’s R&T programs is also 50 million euros. Since the nomination of Yannick D’Escatha as President, the development of CNES’ Research and Technology activities has taken on more importance. [La Dépêche du midi 02/07/06; Air & Cosmos 02/10/06]


About a dozen students from the Lycée International de Los Angeles, a French/American school, worked with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, to develop a buoy that will be launched off the coast of Antarctica to measure ocean temperatures. As the data is accumulated it will be transmitted via satellite back to students and scientists. The project is part of a CNES-organized program called Argonautica that aims at educating students about oceans and the role of satellites in oceanography. Given just an empty shell to work with, the students outfitted it with seven temperature sensors and then made an anchor to keep the buoy steady as it drifts in the current. The buoy is set to be launched from Ada2, a ship owned by the French sailor Isabelle Autissier who is retracing the routes of early Antarctic explorers. Students will be able to track the buoy thanks to CNES’ education website; they will then correlate data with measurements taken by the Jason satellite, a joint U.S. – French mission. [Space News 02/06/06]

** 6: IN BRIEF

CNES and the French Defense Procurement Agency have released the amount of the contract signed between the two agencies and EADS Astrium and Thales for the construction of the Elint demonstrator (detailed global map of radar systems). The contract is worth 170 million euros. EADS Astrium will be in charge of the overall system while Thales will work as co-contractor and will be in charge of the satellite payloads and user ground segment. [La Tribune 02/10/06]

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.