Signature of a Declaration of Intent by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the French space agency CNES

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On October 23, on the sidelines of the 70th International Astronautical Congress, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and French space agency (CNES) president Jean-Yves Le Gall signed a Declaration of Intent charting a path forward for French-American collaboration on space situational awareness (SSA) and space traffic management (STM).

French Ambassador Philippe Etienne was on hand for the signing of this agreement, which represents a further step forward in the longstanding cooperation between France and the U.S. With the proliferation of space objects, these areas seem fundamental to the sustainable development of outer space.


70th International Astronautical Congress, a rich week for French space

On October 25, the 70th International Astronautical Congress (IAC) came to a close in Washington D.C. More than 6,800 representatives of the space community gathered from over 80 countries for a week of events, meetings and collaborations that will shape the future of space.

The General Assembly of the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) welcomed 41 new members, bringing the total membership count to 397 from 69 countries. The city of Baku, Azerbaijan, was also selected as host city for IAC 2022. The new IAF President, Pascale Ehrenfreund, took up duty on Friday, October 25 and announced her IAF Global Advocacy Agenda 2019 - 2022, focusing on supporting and facilitating global space governance, stimulating and propelling the global space economy and influencing and fostering global space advocacy. CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall, IAF’s President for the past three years, was made IAF Honorary Ambassador.

Among the highlights for CNES at this 70th IAC, the first meeting of the Space Climate Observatory (SCO) Steering Committee attended by numerous signatory space agencies laid out a roadmap for the next two years underlining the SCO’s operational goals. In particular, the roadmap puts the emphasis on real-world projects and proposes to establish an SCO label. Governance issues were discussed to enable the Steering Committee to work with the Executive Secretariat on the inception of an International Charter designed to sustain the SCO’s international actions in the long term.

As part of the cooperation in space between France and the United States, CNES and NASA signed an amendment to the Implementing Arrangement for their joint Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission concerning operational processing and reprocessing of raw data telemetry. CNES’s President also signed a Declaration of Intent with the U.S. Secretary of Commerce on space traffic management.

Lastly, CNES and ESA signed an agreement under which the two agencies will share their ground control and interoperability facilities for spacecraft operations. The role of any control center is to operate an instrument in space, uplink commands to a satellite and downlink data on its health and status, as well as the vital science data from its instruments. The European network of operations centers will enable opportunities for joint action, knowledge sharing and technical interchange, and allow engineers and other professionals to benefit from mutual exchanges.

To read the full text of the declaration of intent, click here.