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France, India Space Cooperation to Focus on Climate and Human Spaceflight

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
October 1, 2020
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French also to contribute instrument to India’s 2025 mission to Venus

PARIS (CNES PR) — On Wednesday September 30, Jean-Yves Le Gall, President of CNES, met with his Indian counterpart, Dr. K Sivan, President of ISRO. During this virtual session, all the subjects central to cooperation between the two countries were discussed.

In August 2019, CNES and ISRO embarked on the development and manufacture of a constellation of satellites. This, carrying telecommunications (AIS automatic identification) and observation (radar and optical) instruments, will constitute the first space system in the world allowing continuous surveillance of maritime traffic. 

The satellites will be operated jointly by France and India to monitor maritime traffic in the Indian Ocean. In addition, the space system which will cover a large belt around the globe could be used for the benefit of many French economic interests. With a capacity to revisit several times a day, it will also be able to track down oil slicks and go back to their source.

CNES and ISRO jointly operate climate monitoring satellites. TRISHNA, a high-precision thermal infrared observer, will soon join the Indo-French satellite fleet. After a successful design phase led by the joint ISRO-CNES team, the satellite development phases are being prepared in the coming months. 

TRISHNA will provide continuous high-resolution thermal monitoring, leveraging its unrivaled capabilities for valuable applications ranging from sustainable agriculture to drought forecasting and urban heat island monitoring.

At the end of 2019, the Argos-4 Payload Module arrived in India, which will be integrated into the Oceansat-3 satellite, another strong cooperation between the two countries. Oceansat-3 is a central mission for the operational continuity of the Argos system. It will also strengthen the Franco-Indian fleet of satellites monitoring the climate from space.

Since September 2018, CNES and ISRO have set up a working group dedicated to cooperation in the field of human spaceflight. The two countries are pooling their expertise, particularly in the fields of space medicine, monitoring the state of health of astronauts and life support. The first exchanges have already taken place: training of flight doctors and Indian technical teams, supply of CNES flight equipment.

In the field of exploration, France will participate in the ISRO Venus mission, which is scheduled for launch in 2025. The VIRAL instrument (Venus Infrared Atmospheric Gases Linker) co-developed with ROSCOSMOS and the LATMOS laboratory of CNRS was selected by ISRO following a call for tenders. CNES will coordinate and prepare the French part of the mission. It will be the first French payload to embark on an Indian exploration mission.

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