The space sector is currently undergoing a seismic shift. Europe is still the second-ranking world space power, but the playing field is changing radically, with two major challenges ahead: first, cheaper access to space is opening the door to an increasing number of countries determined to develop space activities geared to their rapidly-expanding ambitions; and second, the United States’ space sector is being transformed by new players from the Internet sphere applying innovative, game-changing methods.
The French Space Agency (CNES) has adapted and reorganized to meet these challenges, first by being attentive to the business environment and tailoring our strategy to this new landscape. This is how we obtained the go-ahead for Ariane 6 to assure continuity after 35 years of successful Ariane launch operations. It is also what we are doing to help French industry keep pace with developments in the satellite market.
Second, by evolving our programmes and organization. This is what inspired CNES’s new targets and performance objectives contract for 2016-2020, a roadmap we named Innovation & Inspiration because these are the two values underpinning what we do day after day.
And third, by remaining at the forefront of the international space scene. In 2015, CNES’s vital role in the COP 21 climate change conference and more broadly our efforts to curb global warming were materialized by the Mexico and New Delhi Declarations, in addition to development of the MERLIN and MicroCarb satellites.
France is the second biggest space spender per inhabitant worldwide. CNES has the talents and expertise to match these investments and a wealth of experience in international partnerships within Europe and around the world. It is essential not only to innovate but also to inspire. Our young generation needs to grasp the importance of science and technology and be motivated to embrace careers in this field, which is the only one capable of creating value and sustainable employment. That is why space science is a priority for CNES : the recently-launched Microscope satellite is tackling the theory of general relativity, no less!
And our future programmes will take us even further, supported by technologies that no longer bear any resemblance to those used to reach the Moon and are currently revolutionizing our sector and its impact on society. Driven by France’s ambitious space programme and the talent of its employees, and working with the nation’s space team, CNES is today more than ever before a pivotal player paving the way to the future.