53rd International Paris Air Show - A record edition for CNES

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The 53rd International Paris Air Show came to a close yesterday at Le Bourget, where CNES made its mark again this year with a new record of 30,000 visitors to its pavilion over the course of the week-long event—up from 17,000 at the previous edition in 2017, confirming the public’s growing interest in space. Focused on the themes of innovation, climate and exploration, the CNES pavilion received visits from President Emmanuel Macron and many government ministers, as well as from Thomas Pesquet, who was the agency’s permanent guest at the show.

Among the highlights of this record edition was the official launch of the Space Climate Observatory (SCO) by President Macron during his visit to the show, alongside the Minister for Armed Forces Florence Parly and more than 30 heads of space agencies who had previously signed a Joint Declaration of Interest in this initiative. Climate action is one of the main challenges facing humankind in the 21st century and this launch of the SCO bears testament to the strong government backing for it in the wake of the One Planet Summit.

The roundtable organized by CNES on the theme of exploration was opened by Spain’s Minister of Science Pedro Duque, after which 12 heads of space agencies outlined their respective visions for the future of crewed and robotic space exploration, underlining the crucial role that international cooperation will play in the decades ahead.

In the field of innovation, the show also saw the official launch of KINEIS, Europe’s first commercial nanosatellite programme dedicated to the Internet of Things (IoT). Conceived by CNES subsidiary CLS, KINEIS is seeking to make connectivity cheaper and more efficient using the Argos system, and to connect several million objects located anywhere on the surface of the globe by 2030. CLS is thus set to become a strategic player in IoT and a leading light in NewSpace.

In the CNES pavilion, Thomas Pesquet attended the ceremony announcing the winners of the agency’s Generation ISS competition alongside Frédérique Vidal, the Minister for Higher Education, Research and Innovation. The French astronaut will be performing the winning student experiments on his next mission on the International Space Station (ISS). He will also be taking with him a small Martian meteorite found in the Sahara Desert that was presented to him at the show—the same piece of rock that accompanied him on his previous six-month stay aboard the ISS.

The record number of visitors to the CNES pavilion at this 53rd International Paris Air Show was also down to the rich programme of events hosted by experts from CNES and its partners, including 50 conferences with no fewer than 40 speakers setting out the future stakes of space to professionals, institutional partners and the public.