Skip to main content

“The French Space policy: Providing insights on European Space challenges and opportunities”

Published on January 10, 2013
Remarks by Ambassador François Delattre

Embassy of France, January 9, 2013

Deputy Assistant Secretary John Plumb,

Director Richard McKinney,

Representatives of space agencies of three continents (Asia, Europe and America),

Representatives of the European states and the EU,

Representatives of the DoS, DoD and DoC,

Representatives of Congress, astronauts, and all of you, actors and enthusiasts of the space world,

It’s a great pleasure for our Space Attaché Philippe Hazane, for his team and for me to welcome you today to the Maison Française, and I am delighted that so many of you accepted this invitation during the hectic work period following the Christmas break.

Before getting lost among the stars, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your families happiness and success in your personal and professional projects in 2013.

I would also like to thank Mr. Thierry Duquesne, Director for Strategy, Programs and International Relations at CNES, who has come especially from Paris with Sylvie Callari to be here with us this afternoon. Mr. Duquesne will provide us insight into France’s space policy, which would be impossible to talk about without putting it in its European context. I would also like to thank all of our industry captains for their presence here today, and for their support:

- Joël Chenet, Senior Vice President for TAS (Thales Alenia Space) – who has also come especially from France;

- John Schumacher and Silvio Sandrone from Astrium;

- Peter Lengyel, President and CEO of Safran USA;

- Wiener Kernisan, Vice President at Arianespace, Inc.;

- Ben Minichino, Vice President at CLS America;

- and of course Sean O’Keefe, Chairman and CEO of EADS North America (and as we all know a former NASA administrator).

By creating the French space agency CNES in 1961, General De Gaulle wanted to provide France with independent access to space; but he also wanted the French space industry to acquire expertise in all fields of space in general, and in the design and development of artificial satellites in particular.

That’s how France became the third leading space power after the United States and what was named the USSR at that time; it has also led the European space industry for 50 years. Today, this leading role is dedicated to the service of Europe, alongside all our EU partners and the European Space Agency, ESA.

It’s against this background that the ESA Ministerial Conference took place on November 20 and 21st; during this conference, the European space policy was given a new boost and stronger consistency, at the level of the EU member states as well as through our transatlantic partnerships. I’m sure Mr. Thierry Duquesne will tell you more about this in one minute.

However, I would like to stress that this ESA Ministerial Conference reflects a clear political desire for continuity and support for a strong European space policy. The ministerial meeting adopted ambitious budgets and programs; and transatlantic cooperation is a key aspect, whether with respect to ensuring continued participation in the International Space Station (ISS) or the start of new joint ventures for far space exploration. Indeed, Europe will participate with NASA for the first time in a program to launch a manned spacecraft.

I hope that this partnership and cooperation can continue in other areas - and notably regarding the access to space.

While an ever increasing number of nations are becoming involved in the occupation and conquest of space, I believe there’s an urgent need to ensure that this cooperation with our allies reinforces our shared leadership in this field. Only this cooperation will allow us to enhance the robustness of our space systems in order to promote our common strategy while keeping costs as low as possible.

This will soon be the case in the field of satellite navigation, with the GPS and Galileo systems, an example to be followed in order to expand cooperation on space policy in all areas.

I wish you a great conference followed by a reception and the traditional galette des rois… - even if that sounds a bit like a paradox for our two republics…

My warmest thanks again to all of you./.

      top of the page