Japan being one of France’s key partners in space, CNES maintains numerous contacts with Japanese space institutions. Since the last bilateral CNES-JAXA meeting in October 2015, at which a new cooperation agreement was signed in the presence of the French and Japanese Prime Ministers, the first half of this year has been marked by several major events, notably the first meeting of the France-Japan dialogue on space in March.
It is in this very positive context that Jean-Yves Le Gall presented the advances in CNES’s programmes, setting out its ‘Innovation & Inspiration’ objectives and performance plan and upcoming milestones this year, with the implementation of the decisions reached at the COP 21, which will be detailed at IAC 2016 in Guadalajara and at the COP 22 in Marrakesh, the mission of Thomas Pesquet, France’s 10th astronaut, to the International Space Station and the meeting of the ESA Ministerial Council in Lucerne.
The next steps in France and Japan’s space cooperation were also addressed:
· Continuing efforts to curb climate change, in which Japan is closely involved with its GOSAT satellite and France with its MicroCarb and MERLIN programmes.
· Space exploration, with the Hayabusa-2 asteroid mission and its Mascot lander derived from Philae, the BepiColombo mission to Mercury and both nations’ shared interest in Mars and its moons through Japan’s MMX project.
· Potentially reusable low-cost launchers, a field in which the two nations have decided to conduct joint research that could ultimately lead to them building a reduced-scale demonstrator together.
The role of satellites in encouraging sustainable development in Africa and Southeast Asia was also discussed as part of the plan for sustainable development, health and security in Africa endorsed by the French and Japanese Prime Ministers in October 2015.
After these meetings, Jean-Yves Le Gall commented: “I would like to thank all of our Japanese partners with whom we are pursuing our effective, resolutely forward-looking cooperation in many areas. Be it in our efforts to combat climate change, increasingly spectacular exploration programmes or future launch vehicles, cooperation with Japan is more than ever before at the cutting edge of innovation.”