Embassy Celebrates Space Industry Day
On January 8, the Embassy of France gathered leaders from the French and American space sectors to advance bilateral partnership and shed light on France’s new space policy plan, "Ambition 2020."
The half-day conference joined top-level administrators including Jean-Yves Le Gall, the President of France’s Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES), as well as Charles Bolden, the Administrator of NASA. Mary Kizca, Adjunct Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a U.S. federal agency, also participated.
- L to R: Ambassador François Delattre, NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden, Mary E. Kicza Assistant Administrator for Satellite and Information Services at NOAA, Jean-Yves Le Gall President of CNES
In opening remarks, François Delattre, Ambassador of France to the United States, welcomed the event as the latest of a long tradition of French-American partnership in the space field.
Transatlantic space efforts "have to be one of our priorities... I hope this cooperation can continue," Amb. Delattre said.
Mr. Le Gall followed the Ambassador with a speech outlining "Ambition 2020." The broad strategic roadmap has defined the goals of French space policy since its unveiling last year. The plan identifies five priority activities for CNES and its partner groups, which are space launchers, scientific research, space observation, telecommunications, and defense.
"Ambition 2020" will drive the technical excellence for which France is widely respected in the space community. The plan will allow for further development of the Ariane launcher, the signature program of the ArianeEspace company since 1979. The group’s current launcher model is the Ariane 5, whose reliability has been proven through 57 consecutive successful launches since 2003.
The plan will also serve to create jobs in France and worldwide. CNES has 2,500 employees currently, and 40 percent of all space industry jobs in Europe are located in France.
In a short speech made at the conference’s closing reception, Mr. Bolden lauded French-American space efforts and said that international cooperation is the key to success for space business." He expressed optimism for "Ambition 2020" and other collaborative projects between the two countries.
Notable projects with French-American cooperation include the NASA-led mission for the Curiosity, a "rover" currently exploring the surface of the planet Mars. The car-sized vehicle features several French-designed instruments, such as the "ChemCam," described by NASA as a "rock-zapping laser" that gathers geological data from the elements released during the Curiosity’s field tests.
In another speech, Ms. Kizca likewise praised bilateral efforts through environmental observation and outdoor safety missions. Over 21,000 data collection platforms are currently operating under French and U.S. oversight, she said. The Cospas-Sarsat project, which since the late 1970s has monitored distress calls from persons in outdoor crises, is responsible for over 35,000 rescues to date.
Ms. Kizca expressed her view that "many successes lie still ahead" for the joint initiatives in which France and the United States are taking part.