Monday 5 October, Jean-Yves Le Gall took part in the 17th Science and Technology in Society (STS) Forum, a yearly event organized by Japan. In his address, CNES’s President stressed the importance of national and international cooperation and collaboration as a way for people, organizations and nations to inspire new ideas and ambitious endeavours for the benefit of humankind.
International cooperation between space agencies is focused notably on two main issues of universal import:
• Space is a crucial tool to help us assess the nature and consequences of climate change. It is therefore essential to pool the efforts of space agencies around the world, whether devoted to the development of space missions or use of satellite data. To this end, the Space Climate Observatory (SCO), an international programme launched in 2019, seeks to leverage the infrastructure and data of 27 space agencies and international organizations to propose practical solutions to policymakers in adapting to the consequences of climate change.
• Another global issue is the exploration of the universe, in particular of our solar system, and the search for the origins of life. Tremendous discoveries have already been made in this sector and the quest is accelerating at the beginning of this decade, with a host of missions to the Moon, Mars or asteroids. These projects are often too large for a sole nation to undertake alone, and international cooperation is absolutely necessary to achieve their goals.
Space is also a great place for collaboration at national level, between the public and private sectors, and one of the roles of space agencies is to boost the space sector and its economic development. In France, CNES has set up innovative schemes to drive its relationship with industry. Upstream, it is building its research and technology programme through a co-creation process, working closely with traditional industry. Space programmes developed in this way match space companies’ real needs to give them a competitive edge in the global market. And downstream, CNES is working to extend the use of space technologies and space data, both for social purposes and for business, offering newcomers in the space arena a favourable environment for growth.
The space adventure is only 60 years old and a relative newcomer in science and technology. But it is a remarkable example of the importance of cooperation in addressing global challenges, achieving enabling and fascinating discoveries, and spinning off practical applications that change our daily lives and boost our economy. In the current health situation, the space sector can be a key factor supporting the recovery of national economies, notably through the development of applications employing satellite data.