Credit: Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India

Credit: Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India

India and France agree to enhance cooperation in space technology

India and France issued a Joint Vision for Space Cooperation, during the recent visit of French President, Mr Emmanuel Macron, to India.

The vision lists specific areas for future cooperation between the Indian and French space agencies, ISRO (Indian Space Research Organistion) and CNES (Centre national d'études spatiales), and build on the historical linkages between India and France in the area of civilian space. The Indo-French relationship in space is spread over different facets of space science, technology and applications, including sounding rocket development, liquid engine development, hosting of payloads, joint satellite realization, training programmes, satellite communication experiments and satellite launches.

The cooperation initiatives outlined below will be executed through suitable existing or new joint mechanisms, including with inter-agency representations, led by ISRO and CNES.

Imaging earth and tackling climate change

To realise the societal benefits of space technology, both sides will cooperate in remote sensing of earth using satellites.

This includes: 1) joint development of advanced instruments and joint missions to study weather and climate; 2) sharing of data including direct reception from each other's Earth observation missions meant for Meteorology, Oceanography, Resource inventory and Cartography; and 3) sharing of expertise in data analysis including algorithm development and modelling to derive useful information for the benefit of humanity.

The partnership will be extended to the area of high resolution earth observation leading up to a joint earth observation mission with high resolution imaging capability in optical and microwave domains.

To address global challenges, including climate change, the two space agencies will undertake joint missions, and also mobilise expertise and resources from other space-faring nations. Both sides will pursue their cooperation for climate monitoring on the joint missions Megha- Tropiques and Saral-Altika, the ongoing studies of the Trishna satellite for land Infrared monitoring and the Oceansat3-Argos mission.  

Megha-Tropiques is a joint satellite mission involving ISRO and CNES to study the water cycle in the tropical atmosphere in the context of climate change. The Trishna satellite mission aims to address eco-system stress and water-use monitoring. French instruments will be accommodated on India’s Oceansat-3 satellite, scheduled to be launched by ISRO during 2018. Oceansat-3 is next satellite in the Oceansat series, which consists of remote sensing satellites dedicated to ocean research. The new satellite will be able to simultaneously measure ocean colour and sea surface temperature.

ISRO and CNES will share expertise on satellite navigation, notably on system performance assessment by independent means (for instance through reference stations in France and India to improve satellites' orbit determination and clock estimation for the Indian and European navigational systems); and navigation applications.

Situational awareness

India and France will also develop a wider dialogue on situational awareness. ISRO and CNES are also going to work together for the design and development of joint products and techniques in the area of situational awareness, including those involving Automatic Identification System (AIS), to monitor and protect the assets in land and sea. The agencies would also cooperate to protect their respective space-based assets, including through information-sharing on space events.

Among the 14 pacts signed between the two countries, ISRO and CNES have arrived at arrangements for pre-formulation studies of a maritime awareness mission, which would provide end-to-end solution for detection, identification and monitoring of vessels in the regions of interest for France and India.

India and France will pursue the study of a constellation of satellites for maritime surveillance.

Exploring Moon, Mars and beyond

The two space agencies can embark on complex high technology space science and planetary exploration missions in future.

ISRO and CNES will collaborate on the autonomous navigation of rovers on Moon, Mars and other planets and aero braking technologies for planetary exploration.

CNES and ISRO, with the support of Laboratoire de meteorologic dynamique (LMD, CNRS), will jointly work on the modelling the atmosphere on Mars and Venus.

CNES could be involved in the definition of the scientific goals and preparatory studies of the future planetary missions of ISRO; and both agencies will study the possibility of embarking French science instruments on board the future interplanetary (Moon, Mars and asteroids) Indian missions.

ISRO and CNES will collaborate on the development of: 1) technologies for Liquid Oxygen-methane propulsion engine; 2) reusable launch vehicle; and 3) special materials, nano-materials, advanced composites, polymers, chemicals, nanotechnologies and manufacturing technologies.

ISRO and CNES are going to cooperate for developing technologies for human exploration of the universe. Specifically, they will jointly develop capabilities and critical technologies addressing radiation shielding solutions; personnel hygiene and waste management system; and design of man-in-loop simulators for human space flight.

Cooperation on International issues

According to the vision statement, as active players within the United Nations and other fora, and in consistency with their international commitments, France and India would cooperate regularly on international issues of common importance including space security, safety and sustainability.

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