October 15, 2014

CNES at French Parliament hearing on ‘vehicle of the future’ strand of national Industry Programme

CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall was invited by MP Jean Grellier of the French Parliament’s economic affairs committee to a hearing on Wednesday 15 October on the Industry Programme in the 2015 draft budget, as part of a roundtable discussion on the ‘vehicle of the future’. He took this opportunity to review progress on the electric satellite plan detailed in the government’s NFI new industrial policy.

 

This roundtable discussion was organized at the French National Assembly by Jean Grellier, the reporter for the Industry Programme in the 2015 draft budget. Alongside Jean-Yves Le Gall were Jean Perrot, Project Leader for electric aircraft, and André Soulage, the new Project Leader for civil airships and unmanned air systems.

Jean-Yves Le Gall recalled that geostationary telecommunications satellites—a field in which France excels—generate more than 8,000 jobs in France and yearly consolidated revenues of around €2 billion, buoyed by strong market performance, especially in export markets. Besides audiovisual broadcasting and fixed or mobile communications, such satellites also bring fast broadband coverage to even the remotest areas.

He also underlined that French industry is experiencing significant and rapid change in the commercial market, faced with growing competition from the United States and fast-evolving electric propulsion technologies. Electric satellites are now a key strategic technology to stay competitive and it is vital to bring them to maturity: such is the goal of the electric satellite project under the NFI new industrial policy, which is aiming to put French manufacturers back among the leading suppliers of this technology.

CNES is tasked with implementing this project for the French government, with funding from the PIA future investment programme. It has already prepared and negotiated contracts for development work to adapt the satellite buses of Airbus Defence & Space and Thales Alenia Space and the use of electric propulsion for satellite positioning and stationkeeping, and for development and ground qualification of Snecma’s high-power PPS¼5000 electric thruster. French industry will thus have a qualified thruster for satellite positioning by 2016, in readiness for a first launch in 2017, and in a higher-performing configuration by 2017 for a first launch in 2019.




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