Status Report

France in Space #383

By SpaceRef Editor
July 12, 2007
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Arianespace had a stellar time at the Paris Air Show and came away with a total of nine signed contracts. On June 18th, Arianespace and SES Group signed a framework contract that will ensure launch services for five satellites to be deployed by SES. The contract will cover all launches planned between 2009 and 2013 and includes the use of both Ariane 5 and Soyuz vehicles. On June 19th, Arabsat announced that it had chosen Arianespace to launch its Arabsat 5 satellite. The fifth-generation satellite is scheduled for launch in 2009 from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou. This is the 11th Service and Solutions launch contract signed by Arianespace with a client from the Middle East. The Arabsat fifth G satellites will be built by EADS Astrium and Thales Alenia Space. Arianespace and Telenor Satellite Broadcasting AS jointly announced the signature of a Service & Solutions launch contract for the THOR 6 satellite on June 20th. THOR 6 will be launched mid-2009 via an Ariane 5 or Soyuz launch vehicle. This is the first contract signed between Arianespace and Telenor Satellite Broadcasting AS, a subsidiary of the Norwegian mobile operator, Telenor. Arianespace and Thales Alenia Space announced on June 21st the signature of a launch Service and Solutions contract for Rascom-1, the first pan-African communications satellite. Rascom-1, built by Thales Alenia Space as part of a turnkey contract with the Regional Africa Satellite Communications Organization, is to be launched in the last quarter of 2007. Arianespace also signed on to launch the Insat 4G satellite built by the Indian Space Research Organization; it will be lofted in late 2008. Chairman and CEO of Arianespace Jean-Yves Le Gall met with Managing Director of Roskosmos Anatoly Perminov, as well as numerous other representatives of the Russian space industry, to officially sign the contract for the purchase of the first four Soyuz launch vehicles which will be launched from the Guiana Space Center (GSC) beginning in 2009. The first two launchers will be ready to ship at the end of 2008. According to the terms of the contract four Soyuz 2 launchers and the associated propellant and fluids, and also covers launch preparations and operations and maintenance of the Russian systems at GSC. All in all, Arianespace now has a very healthy backlog of 44 satellites to launch. [Arianespace 06/18-21/07, La Tribune 06/21/07, La Tribune 06/22/07, Le Monde 06/21/07, Space News 06/25/07]


ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain met with Pascale Sourisse, President and CEO of Thales Alenia Space, during the Paris Air Show (June 18th ‘ 24th) to sign a contract for the Sentinel-1 spacecraft. The 229 million euro contract calls for the design and development of Sentinel-1, the first of five Earth observation satellites to be built for Europe’s Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) program. The five satellites will make up the first series of operational satellites responding to the Earth observation needs of the GMES program, a joint initiative of the European Commission and ESA. Sentinel-1, scheduled for launch in 2011 will ensure the continuity of C-band Synthetic Aperture Radar data together with ESA’s ERS and Envisat satellites. The Sentinel-2 and 3 spacecraft, currently set for launch in 2012, will support land and ocean monitoring, while the Sentinel-4 and 5 satellites will be dedicated to meteorology and climatology through atmospheric chemistry. [ESA 06/18/07]


The SAFRAN Group posted today its consolidated sales for the last six months ending June 30th, 2007. The Group recorded sales of 5.733 billion euros, an increase of 4.7% over the same period last year. Excluding the Communications branch, SAFRAN Group’s sales showed impressive growth of 11.3% with the strongest growth taking place in the Aerospace Propulsion branch. Sales by the Aerospace Propulsion branch increased by 15.5% (22.6% with a constant dollar) to 2.78 billion euros. The notably strong results reflect positive and sustained business in the civil aviation market. The Group’s Defense Security Branch also grew steadily, recording an increase in sales of 7.5%; at constant size, that is excluding the acquisition of EADS’ land and naval optronics business, the increase would have been 6.8%. The SAFRAN Group was formed in 2005 when the French state-owned jet-engine maker Snecma merged with the electronics and communications company Sagem. [SAFRAN 07/11/07, Associated Press 07/11/07]


SPOT Image Corp. unveiled its new web-based e-commerce portal on June 19th, which it is calling SPOT Online Access ( The new website allows customers to peruse, purchase and download the company’s satellite imagery online. The service currently offers data from the SPOT and Formosat-2 satellites but will soon be expanded to incorporate other satellite and aerial geo-spatial data. The website is divided into two parts, the ‘Online Store’, where customers can purchase online extracts of high-quality 2.5-meter resolution ortho-rectified imagery (‘SPOTMaps’), and the “Online Library”, where users can access, manage and share geo-spatial data. SPOTMaps offers 2.5-meter resolution, natural-color, country-wide ortho-mosaicked images of France, Spain, Belgium, Portugal and Luxembourg. All the imagery dates from the past three years and was collected by the SPOT 5 satellite. SPOT Image plans to continuously update and add new country-wide image mosaics to the site, as they are available. SPOT Online Access is unique as it allows users to focus on their own area of interest (AOI). In just a few clicks of the mouse, a customer can delineate their preferred AOI in any size or shape and have the image delivered within minutes. Currently, SPOT Online Access is only available to U.S. customers but should be available worldwide shortly. [SPOT Image Corp. 06/19/07]


The 11 principal agencies that make up the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC) met in Toulouse, France, from July 3rd to 6th to discuss how to identify and how best evaluate measures to prevent space debris. The IADC, made up of the American, European, French, German, Italian, British, Russian, Japanese, Chinese, Indian and Ukrainian space agencies released its findings and suggestions on July 9th. There exist tens of millions of pieces of space debris orbiting around the Earth which prove a constant menace to the numerous satellites and spacecraft currently operating in space. There is a natural ‘cleaning’ that takes place in the atmosphere as some objects eventually fall to Earth and are burned in the atmosphere; however, the higher in the atmosphere these objects are found, the longer their lifespan will be and thus pose more of a risk.

Currently, there is no way to completely rid space of man-made or menacing debris but there are ways to limit the production. CNES, NASA and the other agencies already take preventative measures with their satellites and make sure that they are either de-orbited after 25 years or emptied of their fuel and placed in a sort of graveyard orbit at 300 km above Earth. The committee noted that they did not directly address the Chinese A-Sat launch which, in itself, created a cloud of roughly 2000 pieces of debris, however the Chinese delegation did promise to make the necessary efforts, without citing the specific event. The United Nation’s Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) has accepted the general terms of the IADC and will present them to the General Assembly in October. The text does not outlaw making debris and is not restrictive in nature. [Le Monde 07/11/07]


Eutelsat Communications of Paris, France and Télécoms Sans Frontieres (TSF) have signed an accord making Eutelsat an official partner of TSF in order to support its humanitarian aid efforts around the globe. TSF, based in Pau, France, with regional offices in Bangkok, Thailand, and Managua, Nicaragua, is a non-governmental organization established in 1998 to provide emergency telecommunications services. TSF’s mission is to deliver telecommunications capabilities for humanitarian aid teams in the field and to help victims restore contact with the outside world in the event of an emergency. TSF is capable of reacting and arriving on-scene to deploy telecommunications centers in less than 48 hours. Its centers offer broadband Internet access, voice communications, fax lines, and all the IT equipment necessary for a field office. TSF also develops programs for the deployment of long-term communications centers in regions recovering from man-made or natural disasters. One such center, opened in February 2007, is located in Niger and uses Skylogic’s D-STAR product and capacity on Eutelsat’s W3A satellite to provide information and communications technology (ICT) services to local and international aid organizations working in refugee camps in the region of Dakoro. [Eutelsat 06/18/07]

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: Emmanuel de Lipkowski, 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.