CNES Mobilizes for Micro- and Mini-launchers

Illustration of a micro-launcher pad. (Credits: CNES)

PARIS (CNES PR) — Several calls for projects and calls for applications have just been launched in the field of micro and mini-launchers to promote the emergence of French and European projects in this innovative segment, complementary to current launchers.

They constitute one of the most promising facets of New Space: micro and mini-launchers provide flexibility and responsiveness that make them a complementary solution to conventional launchers. In order to promote the emergence of a competitive and innovative French ecosystem at the service of space Europe, the State and CNES have launched several initiatives to support projects throughout the chain, from the development of new technologies to launches from the Kourou space base.

Call for Projects for the Development of Microlaunchers

Launched in partnership by BPIFrance and CNES as part of the France 2030 plan, this call for projects aims to support the development of micro and mini-launcher solutions and associated technologies: complete launch systems or components (equipment and motorization).  Application files can cover all stages of development, from the start-up phase to the development and industrialization phase. 

The call for projects is aimed at SMEs whose head office is located in France. Applicants have three deposit windows to participate, with deadlines set for January 20, 2022, June 2, 2022 and January 19, 2023. 

With this call for projects, we seek to support solutions or technologies developed by new players and young companies. The objective would be to arrive at one or more solutions for first launches by 2025.

— Jean-Michel Monthiller, project manager at CNES

Call for Applications to Host Microlaunchers at Guiana Space Center (CSG)

This call for applications launched by CNES in conjunction with ESA and ArianeGroup aims to select operators of micro and mini-launchers to enable them to carry out their launches from Europe’s spaceport. The idea is to identify in an exhaustive way all the candidates who wish to be launched from Guiana, and to select those who will be welcomed at the CSG, on the historic launch pad of the Diamant rocket, rehabilitated for the launches of the experimental vehicle Callisto. This call for applications, which was open until January 31, 2022, is aimed at any type of company based in a Member State of the ESA or the European Union.

“The principle of this reception at the CSG is to open up the space base to new players, in addition to the launchers operated by Arianespace. CNES invests to provide them with the common means of the launch pad, each operator must then finance its specific means. One of the important selection criteria will be the level of maturity of the project presented”, explains Jean-Michel Monthiller.

Still in the field of microlaunchers, CNES is working on the launch of another consultation to select the beneficiary of the first test campaign on the Bamocry bench located on the ArianeGroup site in Vernon. The modalities are being considered, but it will be a question of testing components or microlauncher motors.

Did You Know?

Microlaunchers are rockets of a smaller size than traditional launchers, approximately 20 m high, designed to place light satellites up to 300 kg in orbit. This new family of launchers, which provides an agile response to the needs of New Space players, targets all new markets associated with Earth observation and telecommunications, particularly in the field of connected objects.