60 Years of Indo-French Space Ties

By neub9
3 Min Read

Since the inception of the Indian space program in the 1960s, the partnership between India and France in the space sector has been continuously evolving.

Recently, both countries have initiated a bilateral strategic dialogue on space issues and have collaborated on a thermal infrared satellite project.

According to a joint statement, India and France have agreed to establish a bilateral dialogue to address contemporary challenges in space, building on a tradition of over 60 years of technical and scientific space collaboration.

Historical Collaboration

The partnership began when India’s first sounding rocket launch carried a French payload in the early 1960s. Additionally, India’s Department of Atomic Energy signed a MoU with the French space agency for training ISRO scientists.

Significant collaboration occurred in the 1970s when ISRO and CNES worked together on developing the Viking engine, which was utilized in several of ISRO’s satellite launch vehicles.

The joint development of satellites such as Megha-Tropiques and SARAL stands out as a prime example of the synergies between the two nations.

Launched in 2011, the Megha-Tropiques satellite studied tropical weather and climate, while SARAL, launched in 2013, focused on oceanography and proved useful for various fields such as marine and meteorology.

The recent emergence of private space companies has further facilitated collaboration between nations, as seen in the partnership between Dhruva Space and French SatCom Company Kinéis for an IoT connectivity project.

Potential Synergies

India’s ability to launch satellites into space at a relatively lower cost, combined with France’s strengths in research, development, and manufacturing, presents opportunities for a mutual exchange of capabilities.

With India aiming to launch a human spaceflight mission in the coming years, France may emerge as a potential partner or collaborator for such ambitious projects.

ISRO’s Gaganyaan mission, scheduled for 2025, has garnered international attention, and CNES has signed an agreement to provide equipment and training support for the mission.

Both countries recognize the significant role of space applications in economic and social development, with joint space projects making a real-world impact on improving the lives of citizens.

Challenges and Opportunities

While CNES operates under the European Space Agency and prioritizes the European market, opportunities for collaboration with French companies and expansion into the European market are still feasible.

With regular agreements and MoUs being signed between India and France, the potential limitations of governmental agreements are being mitigated by the rise of private space companies in India.

Overall, the partnership between India and France in the space sector continues to grow and holds promise for future collaboration and development.

Note: Nibedita Mohanta, Assistant Editor, contributed to this article

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