The 600-plus participants at CNES’s Innovation Day this year came from a range of horizons including representatives of the regional council and national government, international space agencies, science and technology research bodies and industry. After opening speeches from Marc Pircher, Director of the Toulouse Space Centre, and Lionel Suchet, Director of Innovation, Applications and Science, Charles Elachi, Director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, one of CNES’s main partners, presented JPL’s innovation culture and Christophe Midler, Professor of Innovation at the Ecole Polytechnique engineering school, gave a talk on disruptive management.
Jean-Claude Souyris, Head of Spin-off and Technologies at CNES, then presented the agency’s R&T plan for orbital systems, reviewing achievements of the past year and detailing new directions for the future. This plan comprising 280 actions covering all areas of orbital system engineering and technologies has been allocated a budget of €20 million this year.
The second part of the day was given over to presentations from CNES’s experts on 10 key technologies for the future of space. Concerning both orbital systems and launchers, these included composite and thermoplastic materials, high-density green propellants, active optics, CMOS detectors and the use of ‘big data’ for space applications. Proceedings concluded with a panel discussion on low-cost disruptors in space telecommunications, during which telecommunications operators, industry prime contractors and representatives of launch service providers exchanged views on the evolution of the telecommunications market, both in the geostationary arc and low-Earth orbit where large satellite constellations are expected to be deployed.
This new event reflects the importance that CNES attaches to innovation in all its forms, underpinned by its rich R&T heritage. Because innovation is going to prove crucial in developing new space programmes, CNES recently created its new Directorate of Innovation, Applications and Science (DIA) to continue conceiving the future of space.