Belgium has been investing in space for more than 30 years. Since 1979 and its initial contribution to Earth observation efforts with the SPOT series of satellites, it has been a historic space partner for France. This cooperation has been pursued through agreements at intergovernmental level for SPOT and Pleiades, and between CNES and BELSPO in other domains, such as the memorandum signed in October 2015 under which Belgium worked on development of the Myriade Evolutions spacecraft bus.
The purpose of this meeting was to discuss current issues, notably European Union programmes (European space strategy, Galileo and Copernicus) and preparations for the next ESA Council meeting at ministerial level set to be held in Lucerne at the end of the year.
Jean-Yves Le Gall reaffirmed space’s key role supporting social and economic development, underlining the need to spur development of Galileo-based applications with a view to setting the standard for GNSS receiver manufacturers, as well as Copernicus applications whose development will depend to a large extent on the ability to ensure easy access to data. “To reach these goals, we must secure the long-term future of both programmes by successfully expediting the transition to the operational phase while starting to think now about the next generation of systems,” he said.
CNES’s President also stressed space’s strategic importance, focused on ensuring Europe’s security and independence, increasingly a factor in the thinking of the European Commission and EU member states. “Belgium is firmly committed to guaranteeing independent access to space as an essential component of Europe’s space policy, and I commend its unwavering efforts to defend this position within ESA and the EU. At a time when security in the broader sense is becoming a political priority in Europe, the Commission is seeking to play a bigger role in dual-use space applications and Belgium and France will support its initiatives in this direction,” he added.
Jean-Yves Le Gall then set out CNES’s programmatic priorities for the meeting in Lucerne, the extension of Europe’s involvement in the ISS to 2024 and finalization of the ExoMars 2020 mission.