Status Report

France in Space # 358

By SpaceRef Editor
November 1, 2006
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NASA’s STEREO mission was successfully launched on October 26th via Delta II from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The mission, which is set to last for two years, is made up of two satellites carrying American and European instruments. Several French teams, funded in part by CNES, worked on the assembly of three of the mission’s instruments. The STEREO/WAVES radio wave detector will track the generation and evolution of traveling radio disturbances from the Sun to the Earth’s orbit. SECCHI (Sun-Earth Connection Coronal and Heliospheric Investigation) is an ensemble of instruments, of which the Institute of Space Astrophysics in Orsay, France, has a role in the conception of the EUVI (Extreme Ultraviolet Imager) imaging telescope. CNES has also co-financed a thesis on the analysis of this instrument’s data. IMPACT (In situ Measurements of Particles and CME Transients) is also an ensemble of instruments, of which the Center for Space Studies and Radiation in Toulouse, France, developed the SWEA (Solar Wind Electron Analyzer) detectors. A CNES antenna, near Toulouse, will also be rehabilitated for this mission and will receive data in conjunction with the ground stations put in place by NOAA. [CNES 10/26/06]


The Indian Ocean Commission (Commission de l’océan Indien) announced October 27th that it has entrusted the French company Collecte Localisation Satellites (CLS) with the installation of a Center for Fishing Surveillance on Moroni, Comoros. This new center will allow the Union of the Comoros to monitor foreign fishing boats in waters reserved exclusively for the Comoros, as well as domestic boats fishing in the waters off of Mozambique. The Commission, made up of Mauritius, the Seychelles, Comoros, Madagascar and France (through Réunion), was created to ensure the protection of fishing resources in the Indian Ocean, which have become over-exploited. CLS monitors the oceans through its satellites and the thousands of buoys (especially ARGOS buoys) around the globe. CLS is a subsidiary of CNES and IFREMER (French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea). [Agence France Presse10/27/06]


SES Global and Eutelsat Communications have joined forces to invest in the first European satellite infrastructure for broadcasting video, radio and data to mobile devices and vehicle receivers. Considering the innovative nature of this market in Europe, SES and Eutelsat decided to create the joint venture company (each company will hold a 50% share) which will operate and commercialize the S-band payload on the W2A satellite. The company that will stem from the joint venture is still awaiting approval from the relevant regulatory agencies. SES and Eutelsat have agreed to invest a total of 130 million euros in the project. The W2A satellite that will carry the S-band payload was commissioned by Eutelsat from Alcatel Alenia Space and will be launched by Sea Launch in the first half of 2009. [Eutelsat Communications & SES Global 10/30/06]


The European Space Agency has selected Alcatel Alenia Space to provide an X-band transponder and simulators to test satellite onboard power for the Agency’s LISA (Laser Interferometry Space Antenna) Pathfinder, set to launch in 2009. Financial terms of the agreement have not been disclosed. The LISA Pathfinder mission, budgeted at 180 million euros, is being built by Astrium UK. The mission’s goal is to search for gravity waves and test technologies for formation flying to be used in a larger LISA mission that ESA is currently considering in cooperation with NASA. The follow-on mission would include three satellites flying 5 million kilometers apart. [Space News 10/30/06]


ESA’s GMES initiative is taking a step forward with the expected signature of a contract in December for a synthetic-aperture radar that will be used on the Sentinel 1 satellite. Sentinel 1 is part of Europe’s GMES project, an ensemble of Earth observation missions co-funded by ESA and the European Commission. Astrium GmbH of Germany and Alcatel Alenia Space are currently competing to be the prime contractor of Sentinel 1. The total cost of the satellite is estimated at 220 million euros, not including launch, however any contract signed will be based on a cost-plus basis but with a ceiling price for the hardware-construction phase. A call for bids on the following two Sentinel missions (both part of the GMES initiative) is expected in December; one satellite will carry a superspectral imager for land and agriculture observation and the other will be devoted to ocean altimetry. [Space News 10/30/06]

** 6: IN BRIEF

Eumetsat signed a declaration on October 16th, 2006, that calls on the European Commission to plan for an extension of the GMES project to include Africa. “GMES Africa” would be a continuation of the African Monitoring of Environment for Sustainable Development (AMESD) project, which was recently approved by the European Commission. [Air & Cosmos 10/27/06]


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, Noëlle Miliard and Timothée Verwaerde

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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.