Space Sciences

France and India have shared an important partnership in space science since the beginning of the space age in 1958. The Indian space agency, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and its French counterpart Centre National de Etudes Spatiales (CNES) have a vibrant and voluminous history of cooperation and collaboration of over six decades.  

Began in the early late 1950s and early 1960s, the Indo-French collaboration in space science took a formal turn when the Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS) was established. It was at this site ISRO launched its first sounding rocket with a Sodium Vapour payload manufactured by CNES. The technology of using solid propellant for the sounding rockets and eventually liquid propulsion technology for the VIKAS engine (that powers ISRO’s launchers even now, was a development on CNES’s Viking engine) empowering the Indian Space Program was developed with French collaboration. 

The MeghaTropiques satellite for monitoring tropical atmosphere launched in late 2011 and the Satellite for ARGOS and ALTIKA (SARAL) launched in 2013 are key highlights of the Indo-French collaboration in satellites that continue to provide useful data for atmosphere & environment monitoring, and ocean surface topography.

ISRO and CNES continue working on cooperative programs on earth observation, space geodesy, human spaceflight, future launch vehicle technologies, and planetary exploration.

ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) has launched 4 French satellites on a commercial basis. Arianespace, France has been the major provider of launch services to Indian Geo-Stationary satellites. Subsequent to the launch of the APPLE satellite on a co-operative mode in June 1981, 23 Geo-Stationary satellites of India have been launched by Arianespace on a commercial basis including the advanced communications satellite GSAT-30 launched on January 17, 2020.

India-France Joint Vision for Space Cooperation, issued during the visit of President Emmanuel Macron to India in 2018 can be accessed here.

We feel elated to share some insightful stories on the Indo-French partnership in space here.  

Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Toulouse and the rejuvenation the Indo-French space alliance

Pranav Sharma Space technology in the purview of the contemporary world is projected as synonymous with the greater good of humankind. It has become a voice of humanity’s conscience which could be justified by the fact that the realm of space requires the world to work together for a common goal and the results ofContinue reading “Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Toulouse and the rejuvenation the Indo-French space alliance”

Remembering Satish Dhawan and His Legacy

…The United Nations sponsorship of Thumba has assisted greatly in the Range’s service to the international scientific community through the participation of a large number of scientists from various countries for carrying out rocket experiments… Satish Dhawan, 1976 Satish Dhawan, known for his leadership in the Indian Space Program, was an outstanding technologist who gaveContinue reading “Remembering Satish Dhawan and His Legacy”

Its Elementary My Friend: Gnana Gandhi Reminisces His Training at Vernon

“What I found different in their (French scientists) approach to any problem that they would start solving it from the fundamental level. Say they have to understand the heat loss in a system, I saw them writing fundamental differential equations and build the model from there. This was very interesting for me, and it hasContinue reading “Its Elementary My Friend: Gnana Gandhi Reminisces His Training at Vernon”

VIKING Engine Correspondence: Virtual Archival Exhibition

Satish Dhawan, the finest modern technologist of India took charge of the Space Program in 1972 and held that position until 1984. Dhawan years of ISRO truly internationalized the program. In these years he was able to inspire several indigenous advancements in space technology and ISRO was able to create milestones under his leadership. ThisContinue reading “VIKING Engine Correspondence: Virtual Archival Exhibition”

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