India and France are working on their third joint satellite mission, even as the bilateral space collaboration is entering into multiple domains, including human spaceflight programme, says ISRO Chairman K Sivan. He described France as the biggest partner of India in space.
As such, many French companies are keen to take advantage of the opportunities thrown up by recent reforms injected into the space sector by the government. According to ISRO officials, ISRO and CNES – French space agency, have undertaken two joint missions “Megha-Tropiques”, which was launched in 2011, and “Saral-Altika” in 2013.
India and France’s respective space agencies have completed the feasibility study to realize the earth observation satellite mission with thermal infrared imager, TRISHNA (Thermal infrared Imaging Satellite for High resolution Natural resource Assessment) and are working towards finalizing an implementing arrangement for the joint development.
Sivan said India is also working with France on joint experiments and accommodation of scientific instruments in space missions. Indo-French space collaboration is expanding into multiple domains including space exploration and human space flight programme. ISRO officials said the two space agencies have also finalized all interface control documents for accommodating CNES’s ‘ARGOS’ instrument in ISRO’s OCEANSAT-3 satellite. ARGOS instrument has been delivered at Bengaluru for integration with the satellite.
They said 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.
ISRO-CNES HSP (Human Space Programme) Working Group had a number of discussions on medical aspects of human spaceflight and finalizing an implementation arrangement to formalize cooperation in the field of space medicine. Sivan said that with the recent reforms initiated by the government in the space sector, the Indo-French space cooperation is expected to grow further involving industries, academia and research institutes. He highlighted that many French companies want to make use of reforms in the sector and they are going to involve. 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.