According to ISRO Chairman K Sivan, India and France are working on their third joint satellite mission, even as their bilateral space cooperation expands into new areas, including human spaceflight. Many French businesses are eager to take advantage of opportunities created by the government’s reform measures in the space sector, according to Sivan, who is also the Secretary of the Department of Space.
“France is the biggest partner of India in space,” he said at the DST (Department of Science and Technology) Golden Jubilee Discourse on “unlocking India’s space potential – geospatial data & mapping”, an event presented on virtual mode by the National Council for Science and Technology Communication and Vigyan Prasar on Friday.
As per the ISRO officials, the Indian space agency and the French space agency CNES (Centre national d’études spatiales) have collaborated on two missions: “Megha-Tropiques” in 2011 and “Saral-Altika” in 2013.
“Currently, we are working for the third one (mission),” Sivan said.
Authorities said ISRO and CNES have finalized a feasibility analysis for the TRISHNA (Thermal Infrared Imaging Satellite for High Resolution Natural Resource Assessment) earth observation satellite mission with thermal infrared imager and are working on finalising an enabling agreement for the joint development.
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India and France are also collaborating on joint experiments and the integration of scientific instruments into space missions, according to Sivan.
“Indo-French space collaboration is expanding into multiple domains including space exploration and human space flight programme,” he said.
Officials from ISRO said the two space agencies have also completed all relevant system and interface control documents for CNES’s “ARGOS” instrument to be integrated into ISRO’s OCEANSAT-3 satellite.
Bengaluru has received the ARGOS instrument for integration with the missile.
“Discussions on establishing ‘NavIC‘ (an independent regional navigation satellite system developed and maintained by India) reference station in France and CNES ‘Scintillation’ receivers in India are also progressing well,” they said.
The ISRO-CNES HSP (Human Space Programme) Working Group discussed medical forms of human space travel and finalised an implementation agreement to formalise activities in the areas of space medicine, according to the report.
With the government’s structural adjustments and reforms in the space industry, Sivan believes that Indo-French space cooperation will expand further, involving businesses, academia, and research centers.
“So, the reforms would not only strengthen space cooperation at government-to-government level but industry-to-industry interaction is going to get a fresh relook in the changed environment,” Sivan added.