Opening the day’s proceedings, CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall began by reviewing the highlights of the past year before turning to the main milestones ahead in 2021, with the arrival of Perseverance-SuperCam at Mars on 18 February, Thomas Pesquet’s return to spaceflight, the launch by Ariane 5 of the James Webb Space Telescope and preparations for the maiden flights of Vega-C and Ariane 6, alongside work underway on future generations of launchers with the Prometheus engine and the Callisto and Themis demonstrators.
Jean-Yves Le Gall addressed the notion of risk, historically a constant concern for everyone in the space sector, be it exogenous risks for which space data and infrastructures aid in mitigating, diagnosing and managing consequences, or endogenous technical risks dictated by the highly constraining demands of operating in space and by operational, programmatic or economic requirements. Stakeholders engaged in space have put in place effective processes, standards and governance structures to overcome the hurdles posed by increasingly ambitious and successful programmes that have confirmed the utility of such an approach. The digital revolution is now casting these issues in a new light and hastening a rethink of methods and organization across all sectors from which space could greatly benefit.
CNES Chief Operating Officer Lionel Suchet then pointed to the creation in 2020 of a Space Economy Observatory that has proved increasingly necessary and most useful during the COVID-19 crisis. He underlined that besides this survey role, the second half of 2020 was devoted to aligning the 2021 Multiyear Research and Technology Plan and the €365-million space stimulus package in the government’s France Relance recovery plan for which CNES will be driving most actions. These actions illustrate the need for a very agile space ecosystem more resilient to external international phenomena, pursuing a team approach that enables all concerned to effectively structure their efforts.