France-India Space Cooperation CNES & ISRO to Establish Maritime Surveillance Centre in India

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman Sivan K and National Centre for Space Studies (CNES) – French space agency, President Jean-Yves Le Gall, have signed an agreement on Wednesday 6 March 2019 in Bangalore, to establish maritime surveillance centre in India. India and France will explore putting up a constellation of low-Earth orbiting satellites that will identify and track movement of ships globally, and in particular those moving in the Indian Ocean region where France has its Reunion Islands.

“The CNES-ISRO agreement [intends] to supply an operational system for detecting, identifying and tracking ships in the Indian Ocean; provides for a maritime surveillance centre to be set up in India in May this year; sharing of capacity to process existing satellite data and joint development of associated algorithms.” “For the next phase of the programme, studies for an orbital infrastructure to be operated jointly by the two countries are on-going. CNES is working with its industry partners and with ISRO to devise the most appropriate technical solution.” CNES statement said.

  • This agreement signing follows on from the broader agreement, a ‘Joint Vision for Space Cooperation’, signed on 10 March 2018 during President Emmanuel Macron’s state visit to India.
  • CNES-ISRO agreement is to implement the short-term plan for the French-Indian programme to develop a maritime surveillance system.
  • Meeting between CNES’s President and ISRO’s Chairman also offered the opportunity to confirm the progress of the agencies’ work in the field of human spaceflight to lay the groundwork for missions of future Indian astronauts.
  • India and France had earlier formed a working group to explore ways to cooperate on the Gaganyaan project.
  • The scope of the cooperation includes giving ISRO access to space hospital facilities in France and combining the expertise of the two countries in the field of (a) space medicine (b) astronaut health monitoring (c) life support radiation protection and (d) space debris; at the CADMOS centre for the development of microgravity applications and space operations and the MEDES space clinic in France.
  • Experts from ISRO will start receiving training this month for the ‘Gaganyaan’ project at the Toulouse Space Centre in France.
  • Collaboration on technologies for future launchers, notably reusable vehicles, and joint climate monitoring programmes were also addressed at the meeting.
  • French-Indian satellites: Megha-Tropiques (put up in 2011) and SARAL-AltiKa (put up in 2013) form a unique fleet of climate sentinels that are making significant contribution to implementing Paris Agreement, as acknowledged at the One Planet Summits in 2017 and 2018.
  • These satellites will be augmented with the launch of Oceansat-3-Argos mission in 2020 and a future joint infrared Earth-observation satellite.
  • Oceansat-3-Argos will be central to assuring operational continuity of the Argos system.

“Our relationship with India is flourishing and maritime surveillance from space is a domain of strategic interest to our two nations. It is through the remarkable integration of CNES and ISRO teams that we have been able to deploy this programme in such a short time after it was launched during President Macron’s state visit to India just a year ago”, Jean-Yves Le Gall commented at the end of his visit.

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