In a historic partnership, spanning over 50 years, India and France have come together for space cooperation. According to news reports, the two major space agencies — Centre National D’études Spatiales (CNES) and Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) inked a partnership agreement in satellite launch this week. Kiran Kumar, the Chairman of ISRO and Jean-Yves Le Gall, the President of CNES signed the agreement in the presence of visiting French Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Marc Ayrault.
ISRO extends significant support for CNES, in terms of volume. Moreover, the space programmes of both the nations are complementary to each other, not just in terms of size, but also in terms of the designed objectives. This decision will allow France to leverage and learn the Indian model of streamlining the expenses related to space programmes.
During the visit, the French diplomat was given a guided tour of ISTRAC (ISRO Telemetry Tracking and Command Network). The body is primarily responsible for monitoring India’s space expeditions, including the two Indo-French satellites which are currently in orbit and tasked with collecting data surrounding climatic change.
During the visit, Ayrault’s also met with Rahul Narayan, CEO of leading Indian “NewSpace” startup, Axiom Research Labs, famed for assembling the team competing for the Google Lunar XPRIZE, named TeamIndus. The winner of this event, will be granted a sum of USD 20 million. The first company to successfully land a module on the moon, and place a robot that could explore at least 500 meters and relay high-definition videos and images back to Earth will be declared winner.
CNES has promised to provide TeamIndus with cameras for its all-terrain rover, which is due to completion by the end of 2017. Moreover, Narayan signed an agreement with Le Gall in the presence of Ayrault. As a part of this treaty, CNES will furnish Axiom Research Lab’s lunar rover with two latest-generation CASPEX micro-cameras. This partnership also marks the first-time French technology is being deployed on the lunar terrain.