Signing of ISRO-CNES and CNES-TeamIndus agreements
H.E. Mr Jean-Marc Ayrault, French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development strengthens Indo-French space cooperation.
Signing of ISRO-CNES and CNES-TeamIndus agreements in his presence.
Bengaluru, 9 January 2017
H.E. Mr Jean-Marc Ayrault, French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, is on a four-day visit to India (8th - 11th January 2017) to strengthen bilateral ties. He began his trip in Bengaluru, where he devoted the afternoon of 9th January to space cooperation, a historic and dynamic cooperation between France and India that spans to over 50 years and is one of the cornerstones of the Indo-French strategic partnership.
Mr Ayrault, accompanied by Mr Jean-Yves Le Gall, President of the French Space Agency (CNES), was received by Mr A.S. Kiran Kumar, Chairman - Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). In the presence of the Minister, Mr Kiran Kumar and Mr Le Gall concluded a partnership between ISRO and CNES respectively in satellite launch technology.
On this occasion, Mr Kiran Kumar gave the French delegation a guided tour of ISTRAC (ISRO Telemetry Tracking and Command Network). It is from this latest generation ISRO control centre that Indian space missions are monitored, including the two Indo-French satellites currently in orbit for collecting data to track climate change.
Thereafter, Mr Ayrault met Mr Rahul Narayan, CEO of leading Indian “NewSpace” start-up, Axiom Research Labs. This start-up put forward TeamIndus, the only Indian team competing for the Google Lunar XPRIZE, a global competition for engineers and entrepreneurs to develop low-cost methods of robotic space exploration. 20 million USD will be granted to the first private company that successfully lands a module on the Moon, places a robot that explores at least 500 meters and transmits high-definition video and images back to Earth. As TeamIndus races to design an all-terrain rover by end-2017 for this lunar mission, the French Space Agency (CNES) will provide it with cameras.
In the presence of the Minister, Mr Rahul Narayan and Mr Jean-Yves Le Gall signed an agreement for equipping Axiom Research Lab’s lunar rover with two latest-generation CASPEX micro-cameras, developed by CNES in partnership with French firm 3DPlus. France is the global leader in the micro-camera technology that will equip sensors designed to aid the rover’s progress by detecting ground obstacles in the path of its wheels.
In joining forces with Team Indus on this first private mission to land a rover on the moon, CNES is sending French technology for the first time on lunar terrain. France is thus playing a key role in the Indian NewSpace.
Space is a priority area in the strategic partnership established since 1998 between the Indian and French governments. Space cooperation between the two countries, which dates back to 1964, is one of the oldest and most significant of collaborations conducted by India with a European country. ISRO is the second partner of the French Space Agency, CNES, in terms of volume, after NASA. Of comparable size and sharing similar objectives, the space programmes of both countries are complementary. Strengthening the CNES-ISRO partnership will enable France to benefit from the Indian model of streamlining the costs of space programmes.
CNES’ contribution in the TeamIndus lunar mission reflects a diversification of its partnerships in India and its desire to work closely with new players of the NewSpace movement. India is one of the most promising hubs of NewSpace, a movement which started in California to democratize access to space applications, thus transforming the traditional spaceflight industry and its economic model.
CASPEX (Colour cmos cAmera for SPace EXploration) micro-cameras, which will undertake their maiden flight during the TeamIndus lunar mission, use patented technology that reduces the size of an optical imaging instrument by a factor of ten. CASPEX is reprogrammable and radiation-tolerant, making it suited to a range of space missions. After this mission, CASPEX cameras will next equip the NASA’s Mars 2020 Rover Mission