Tuesday 9 January in Beijing, in the presence of French President Emmanuel Macron and Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China, CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall signed a memorandum of understanding on climate actions and space exploration with Wu Yanhua, Acting Administrator of the China National Space Administration (CNSA).
This boost to French-Chinese space cooperation was followed on Wednesday 10 January by President Macron’s visit to CNSA’s technical facility, where he was shown the CFOSat (Chinese-French Oceanic Satellite) ocean-observing satellite that is the cornerstone of the two nations’ joint efforts to tackle climate change.
France and China have given fresh impetus to their space partnership since 2014 with two major projects, the CFOSat ocean-observing mission and the SVOM (Space Variable Objects Monitor) astronomy mission. CNES and CNSA signed a letter of intent in 2015 to step up their cooperation on tackling climate change, confirmed in May last year at the 11th meeting of the joint Space Committee.
Building on this new momentum, the MoU signed by CNES and CNSA will further consolidate cooperation between the two nations, putting the emphasis on widely disseminating CFOSat data and pursuing the dynamic created by the One Planet Summit organized in Paris on 12 December last year. It will also help to work towards the creation of a Space Climate Observatory (SCO), the flagship initiative of the Paris Declaration adopted on 11 December at CNES’s Head Office. The CFOSat mission, scheduled to launch from China mid-year, will study ocean surface winds and waves with a view to improving sea-state forecasts and gaining new insights into ocean-atmosphere interactions. To this end, the satellite will be carrying two radar instruments: SWIM (Surface Waves Investigation and Monitoring), developed by France, and SCAT (wind SCATterometer), developed by China.
After the visit, Jean-Yves Le Gall commented: “Space cooperation between France and China has taken a spectacular step forward and the agreement we have signed, followed by President Macron’s visit to see the CFOSat satellite, are important signals in this respect. They confirm the high-level commitment at the One Planet Summit, enabling the establishment of the Space Climate Observatory, of one of the world’s major superpowers to tackling climate change.”