CNES’s Pavilion at the 52 International Paris Air Show received record numbers of visitors, nearly 17,000 over the week-long event, proving once again space’s attraction. With its futuristic setting, in the shape of a spacecraft from Luc Besson’s film Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, the pavilion highlighting digital technologies certainly sparked people’s curiosity, drawing questions from youngsters, space enthusiasts and the French and international public and confirming that CNES’s ambition to “invent the future of space” appeals to a broad audience.
No fewer than 45 events were organized during the show, with round tables, educational projects and events showcasing space applications and exploration, as well as the signature of important agreements, notably with NASA. CNES also signed two development contracts at the show concerning the future Ariane 6 ground facilities in French Guiana. The high points of this exceptional week included the long visit on Monday of President Emmanuel Macron and that of Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Friday and government ministers throughout the week, underlining the government’s strong support for the scientific and human adventure that is the conquest of space.
CNES’s activities centred on six domains—Innovation, Climate, Exploration, Cooperation, Applications and Inspiration—on display in the form of mock-ups and touchscreens, and a Mars 2020 exhibit outside the pavilion showed the advances being made by science, confirming that space is an ideal research laboratory opening up vast possibilities. Astronaut Thomas Pesquet’s presence in CNES’s Pavilion drew an enthusiastic response from the public, rewarding the efforts deployed by the CADMOS centre for the development of microgravity applications and space operations, the structure located at the agency’s Toulouse Space Centre that developed a range of French experiments for his Proxima mission aimed at advancing knowledge of the human body, physics and biology. Some of these experiments were also on view in the Airbus A310 Zero-G that conducts parabolic flights to create weightless conditions, which was at the Paris Air Show for the first time.
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