U.S., France Herald Space Cooperation

U.S., France Herald Space Cooperation

In conjunction with French President Francois Hollande’s visit to Washington, the White House issued two facts sheets heralding U.S.-French cooperation on a range of security and science and technology issues, including space.

The fact sheet on U.S-France Security Cooperation summarized cooperation in operations and planning, exercise and training programs, exchange personnel, space, cybersecurity, acquisition, nuclear security, and countering nuclear terrorism.  It points to an agreement between the French Ministry of Defense and U.S. Strategic Command on space situational awareness signed on January 21 as an example of how the two countries are working together to enhance spaceflight safety and reduce the risk of collisions.  It also notes that the two countries are working on “bilateral and multilateral transparency and confidence building measures to encourage responsible actions in, and the peaceful use of, space.”

In the civil space arena, NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden and Jean-Yves Le Gall, head of the French space agency CNES, signed an agreement on Monday (February 10) regarding cooperation on NASA’s 2016 Mars mission, InSight.   CNES is providing (along with several other European countries) the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) instrument for that mission.    A separate White House fact sheet on U.S-French Cooperation on Science and Technology notes that agreement as well as another agreement still being negotiated on solar activity and space weather.  Cooperative earth science missions also warranted a mention.

Le Gall was on the guest list for the White House state dinner on Tuesday night, though Bolden was not.   Elon Musk, founder and CEO of SpaceX, was invited, however, which may have provided an opportunity for interesting discussions about “traditional space” versus “NewSpace”, since Le Gall previously was President of Arianespace, Europe’s launch services provider.

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