Tuesday 18 September in Orlando, CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall was at the 2018 SPACE Forum organized by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), where he took part in a plenary session on the topic of ‘International Collaboration - Opportunities and Challenges’, addressing a broad range of themes relating to French space activities and the international programmes in which France is involved, as well as the Space Climate Observatory (SCO) initiative the agency launched last year.
France ranks number two in the world after the United States for its civil space budget. Besides its contributions to the European Space Agency (ESA) and to space activities led by European institutions such as Eumetsat and the European Union, CNES develops its own programmes at home and with its international partners, in five key areas:
• Science: this is a fundamental area of activity for CNES and the agency is working at the end of this year with Japan and Germany on the Hayabusa2 mission set to put the MASCOT lander on the surface of asteroid Ryugu on 3 October. It is also partnering ESA and Japan on the BepiColombo mission departing for Mercury on 19 October and the United States on the InSight mission to land on Mars on 26 November.
• Earth observation: since the COP21 conference, CNES has shifted its focus to climate, its latest initiative being the Space Climate Observatory (SCO), an international programme launched in December last year to combine satellite and in-situ data with modelling capabilities to better understand and gauge the impacts of climate change at global and local scales, with a view to informing coping strategies.
• Telecommunications: CNES is working closely with French industry to conceive technologies offering new services like broadband Internet, high-definition television, mobility and precise geolocation. On 25 July, four new European Galileo navigation satellites were orbited, taking the total number of satellites in the constellation to 26.
• Launchers: in addition to launches of Ariane 5, Soyuz and Vega vehicles from the Guiana Space Centre, France is actively involved in developing Ariane 6 and looking ahead to the next generations of launchers with the Prometheus low-cost engine and the Callisto reusable launcher demonstrator.
• Defence: CNES and the Ministry for Armed Forces are working together to bring France’s military effective, reliable and affordable space systems. The CSO-1 optical reconnaissance satellite to be launched in the coming months will mark the start of a cycle to renew the nation’s military space capability.
On the sidelines of the SPACE Forum, Jean-Yves Le Gall commented: “As reflected in CNES’s core activities, international cooperation is deeply ingrained in our agency’s DNA. We are also equally focused on innovating, which is at the centre of everything we do. These are the two themes I wanted to highlight at this year’s SPACE Forum, where we are celebrating NASA at 60.”
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