Problems and Challenges of French Space Program –

The new French breath of space, recommended by multiple parliamentary reports, the last of which was tabled on February 3, is coming at a slow pace. Indeed, it seems difficult to find your place in a market that is certainly growing, but filled by its own structural changes. If the United States chooses in the last hours of the bipolar context to move towards a model of economic and ideological support for the emergence of corporations aimed at ensuring national sovereignty in some important strategic areas, European states can only operate with difficulty. They guarantee the autonomy they call for.

We don’t play in big leagues with small behaviors The Minister of Economy, Bruno Le Mayer, indicated in his great speech, dedicated to the ambitions of French space, on 6 December. And for good reason, when CNES celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2021, it still remains, and today more than ever, the question of France’s place in the space ecosystem. One thing is for sure: the next few years will be crucial for the credibility of French space programs.

Strategic autonomy and international cooperation

In the absence of nationalization, France’s strategic autonomy will be at the forefront of all regional, among other things, the scientific part of the European Space Agency (ESA) as well as the European Union Agency for Space Program (EUSPA, formerly GSA) satellite positioning and industrial support. On this capability, precisely, the ambition is clear: to allow the Galileo program to become a reliable and precise alternative to competing satellite positioning programs (GPS, GLONASS, Beidou), especially to attract investment associated with autonomous vehicles.

However, these organizations need to make sure that they respond to two basic issues: to improve its standardization. Buy European lawAn effective European industrial prioritization process in the United States, as well as, secondly, a counter-productive, even participatory approach to a real understanding of European problems to avoid detrimental overlapping of skills that still exists despite the practice of adopted structures. Companies

From an international perspective, France can boast of participating in recent major scientific projects with other space agencies, such as NASA with the design of supercams and SEIS seismometers, and even the satellite (methane remote sensing leader MT) in the German space agency DLR Marlin’s framework. Surface Scout) has been integrated into Hayabusa 2. A dynamic that should not be reversed, which has made France a particularly privileged discourse in terms of scientific expertise – especially due to its strong economic participation in international missions due to its success, as well as recognition of terrain engineering and legal training. Simulation, etc.) suffering from lack of means and recognition.

A real issue of national sovereignty, the French approach to space defense has changed over the last five years to allow for a realistic approach that seeks to consider the transition from the concept of space as a vector. A potential field of conflict.

This aspiration is based primarily on two things: strengthening space capabilities, particularly space surveillance and tracking through the Graves system (a large network adapted to space observation), the Satam network (for aircraft acquisition and trajectory systems and ammunition) or TAROT (TAROT). Action Telescope), as well as adding defenses to these space capabilities, of which the agile Yoda Demonstrator should be one of the first objects operated by the armed forces and not by CNES representatives. Yet, resilience has become a watchword of space programs, allowing space objects to perceive their environment and the need to protect themselves, in particular, allowing industries to restructure the system themselves.

Nicolas Dupont-Aignan (DLF) in his political program ” Increasing the number of intelligence satellites and developing defense and response methods “For his part, Fabian Russell (PCF) wants to see France.” Space disarmament work “An initiative of” Disarmament “Which also protects Gene-Luke Melenchon (LFI).

Flexibility and responsiveness

As demonstrated by the position of the French executive, the question of the launcher is central and it is part of a more general framework of competition where European states, including France, are fighting to register. The Ariane program, whose most ambitious schedule provides for the first launch of the sixth edition of the launcher in the second half of 2022, actually lags significantly behind schedule. Reliability, the central argument of the Aryanspace company, despite its announcement that it has reduced its production costs by 40%, is no longer an essential factor in the expansion of space activities and the commissioning of constellations.

To persuade private investors, and thus to diversify beyond sending medium or heavy launchers, the state must support the emergence of new launch technology through public contracts.

Flexibility and responsiveness should thus be the focal point of a new concept of launch, further supporting a “culture of risk” for the promotion of industrial innovation. The development of Maya microlancers and reusable Themis launchers could fill the power vacuum created by industrial backwardness in particular, and should be accompanied by a re-evaluation of legal instruments as well as the benefit of public-private partnerships.

However, care must be taken not to distort France’s view of space. Promoting the emergence of new technologies through the private sector does not mean privatizing space activities. The subtlety between scientific, military and commercial is therefore required. A question that Jean-Luc Melenchon seeks to address, especially through his more active program than his political opponents, is specifically to ban space tourism and reverse the privatization of Aryanspace.

Image caption above: Ariane 6 will perform its first flight in the second half of 2022. (© ESA) Ariane 6 will perform its first flight in the second half of 2022. (© ESA)

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