GIFAS, the French aerospace industries association, has more than 350 members from major prime contractors and system suppliers to small specialist companies, covering the full spectrum of skills from the design, development and production of aerospace systems and equipment to maintenance and operation.
At the commission’s meeting, Jean-Yves Le Gall reviewed the events in space that have been in the news in France and Europe this year. He began by detailing France’s space budget, which has remained stable for the last five years at around €2 billion, a sign of a vibrant and ambitious sector at a time when budgets are mostly declining. He underlined that funding for the development of Ariane 6 and its launch complex have been confirmed. He also stressed that all of CNES’s partners across the board—ministries, industry contractors, research bodies and space agencies—are especially satisfied with the status of joint efforts being pursued with the agency, and set out the continuous competitiveness gains made at the Guiana Space Centre (CSG).
CNES’s President then turned to preparations for the forthcoming ESA Ministerial Council meeting in Lucerne at the start of December, and signalled France’s intention to focus on its scientific, industrial and societal priorities in line with CNES’s 2016-2020 objectives and performance plan. These priorities notably include securing funding for the CSG for 2017-2021, continued operation of Ariane 5 and Vega, development of the new Prometheus engine and efforts to further boost the competitiveness of the space telecommunications industry.
Lastly, after touching on the MicroCarb carbon-monitoring satellite programme, for which agreements are set to be signed at the COP22 being held from 7-18 November in Marrakesh, Jean-Yves Le Gall turned his attention to the Galileo programme, for which four new satellites will be launched in 10 days’ time by Ariane 5, a technical first. He underlined the strategic and technical importance of this programme and the significant benefits it is bringing to Europe, currently too dependent on the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS). With the launch of these four additional satellites, taking the Galileo constellation to 18, initial services will soon be available and users will have the ability to combine GPS and Galileo signals. In particular, the arrival of Galileo will make it possible to refine signals for consumer satnav receivers while offering more robustness and sensitivity. Uptake of Galileo is likely to rise rapidly among smartphone users and it promises to serve a whole host of new applications from driverless cars to rail transport and shipping, as well as in aviation by enhancing the EGNOS system.