Monday 25 January in New Delhi, in the presence of French President François Hollande and Norendra Modi, Prime Minister of the Republic of India, CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman A.S. Kiran Kumar signed three cooperation agreements, building on the foundation of the accord signed in Paris last April and providing the framework for closer ties between the two nations in space in the years ahead.
Under the agreements, CNES and ISRO will jointly develop an infrared climate-monitoring satellite designed to map heat exchanges on Earth’s surface and support new applications in agriculture, forest monitoring, soil and groundwater pollution monitoring and volcanology. In 2018, the Oceansat3-Argos mission will fly France’s latest-generation Argos 4 environmental data collection and location instrument. These two new missions confirm France and India’s commitment to monitoring climate from space, reaffirmed at the COP21 climate conference, and will complement the French-Indian Megha-Tropiques and SARAL-AltiKa satellites already in orbit. The two nations have also decided to set up a joint space science group that will draw on CNES and ISRO’s rich heritage in this domain and has been tasked with studying France’s participation in future Indian interplanetary missions, notably to Mars and Venus.
Tracing its roots back to the first bilateral space agreement signed in 1964 by Professor Jacques-Emile Blamont, then CNES’s Chief Technologist, the French-Indian alliance is one of the oldest and most closest international partnerships in the history of space. For 35 years now, all Indian satellites that cannot be orbited from Indian soil have been launched from the Guiana Space Centre.
After the signing of the agreements, Jean-Yves Le Gall commented: “Today we sealed a historic agreement to develop and build two new satellites and to prepare for a future interplanetary mission. CNES is proud to be entering a new era of French-Indian space cooperation, 52 years after the first agreement between us. This longstanding relationship, which is unique in space history, has enabled our teams to establish close ties that will now be taking us together to Mars and Venus. India’s space sector has seen impressive growth in recent years through new ways of designing space missions. I appreciate the trust that our partner places in us and I look forward to seeing this alliance giving a boost to both CNES and ISRO and making our industries more competitive.”