April 24, 2019

France-China space cooperation - France guest of honour at China Space Day - CNES at commemorations marking anniversary of the launch of China’s first satellite

Wednesday 24 April, CNES Chief Operating Officer Lionel Suchet was at the opening ceremony of China Space Day in Changsha, China, alongside Zhang Kejian, Administrator of the China National Space Administration (CNSA), and Xu Dazhe, Governor of Hunan Province. For this national event, CNSA invited France as guest of honour. In his address during the opening plenary, Lionel Suchet underlined that 2019 marks a key milestone for space cooperation between France and China in the four strategic domains of exploration, oceanography, astrophysics and space medicine.

China’s space authorities are celebrating China Space Day with a number of events in the city of Changsha, Hunan Province. This year’s China Space Day is the fourth of its kind commemorating the launch of the first Chinese satellite, DongFangHong-1 (‘the East is red’) on 24 April 1970.

Lionel Suchet pointed to the strong impetus driving French-Chinese space cooperation. The historic agreement signed on 25 March in the presence of Presidents Emmanuel Macron and Xi Jinping has stepped this science and technology cooperation up a gear and paved the way in the domain of planetary exploration for China to fly French experiments on its Chang’e 6 mission to return samples from the Moon in 2023-2024.

CNES’s Chief Operating Officer then addressed the three other domains in which the two nations will be working together in the decade ahead. In the field of oceanography, the CFOSat mission has confirmed all the hopes placed in it since being launched last year, delivering data that will be used to monitor ocean surface waves and winds and thus yield new insights into a whole range of phenomena affecting Earth’s climate. In astrophysics, the SVOM project, now in the final stages of development and set to launch in 2021, will help us to better understand the phenomena surrounding gamma-ray bursts and tell us more about gravitational waves. And in space medicine, the Cardiospace instrument operated on the TianGong laboratory in 2016 has performed studies on the health of Chinese astronauts. CNES and CNSA have also conducted several parabolic flights together and other ground campaigns will benefit the future human exploration of the solar system.

On the sidelines of today’s conference, Lionel Suchet commented: “It is a great honour for France to be invited as guest country for this China Space Day. Closer cooperation in space between our two nations, notably to explore the Moon and observe Earth, opens up new prospects for developing ambitious space projects which I’m sure will lead to eagerly expected results.”

Pascale Bresson    Press Officer    Tel: +33 (0)1 44 76 75 39    pascale.bresson@cnes.fr
Raphaël Sart    Press Officer    Tel: +33 (0)1 44 76 74 51    raphael.sart@cnes.fr
Sébastien Martignac    Press Officer    Tel. +33 (0)1 44 76 78 35    sebastien.martignac@cnes.fr