CNES organized itself from the beginning of last week to protect the health of its workforce and to play its part in the national effort to slow the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic and sustain the nation’s economic activity. To this end, the agency has instituted home working on a massive scale across its four field centres in Paris Les Halles, Paris Daumesnil, at the Toulouse Space Centre and at the Guiana Space Centre, thanks to the capacity of its information system and the huge efforts of its staff.
The very next day after the government’s announcement of home confinement measures, more than 2,500 employees of CNES and its partners were able to work from home with direct and fully secure access to the agency’s information system. However, CNES’s response plan requires certain employees to be physically present on site and all steps have been taken to ensure they can carry out all of their tasks to the usual high standards of quality while strictly applying the recommended distancing and transmission reduction procedures.
At the Toulouse Space Centre, more than 70 staff are present on a daily basis to operate the satellites under the agency’s control, notably those vital to military operations. They are also maintaining space surveillance and tracking and search-and-rescue services through the Cospas-Sarsat and Galileo systems. At the Guiana Space Centre, 120 CNES employees are ready to be deployed on site at all times to guarantee the safety and security of the launch base, its facilities and satellites. All launch preparations have been suspended due to the potential uncertainty and danger of the health situation at a time when great care needs to be taken to prevent the spread of the epidemic in French Guiana. However, everything is being done so that launch operations can resume immediately as soon as the COVID-19 health situation improves.
To implement the agency’s response plan and protect the health of its people, five crisis units have been set up, one central unit and one at each of the field centres. These units are meeting daily to adapt the response to the evolving situation. By combining home working and organization of on-site teams, all CNES personnel are fully engaged in combating the spread of the epidemic while continuing to work and thus help to support the nation’s economy.