Mongolia and France signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on 18 May 2018 in order to carry out space cooperation at the institutional level between the Centre national d’études spatiales (CNES) and the Mongolian communication and information technologies authority (ACTI).
The MoU was signed by Jean-Yves Le Gall, President of CNES, and the Mongolian ambassador to France, Avirmid Battur, in Paris.
The MoU follows a visit to Mongolia by Jean-Yves Le Gall in August 2015 – the year that marked the fiftieth anniversary of Franco-Mongolian diplomatic relations – to meet his counterpart there after the government in Ulaanbaatar announced that it intended to develop a national space policy. At that meeting a space cooperation MoU was proposed, with subsequent meetings between French and Mongolian space officials negotiating the details and terms of the agreement.
French space officials believe that they can offer Mongolia a number of benefits from the MoU, to include expertise in Earth observation, satellite communications, launch services, training and education for specialists and managers, and the development of space applications for specific Mongolian policy needs and goals.
“The benefits of fostering international space cooperation with both established and emerging players are today clearly recognized across our community, and it is to this end that CNES is partnering with ACTI to help Mongolia establish a national space programme. A technical seminar to be held in Toulouse with engineers from ACTI will enable us to define concrete areas in which we could work together, notably to develop new applications,” said Jean-Yves Le Gall at the signing of the MoU with the Mongolian ambassador to France.
Mongolia is already active in space through its MongolSat-1, consisting of twelve transponders dedicated to Mongolian needs on the Asia Broadcast Satellite (ABS) 2 satellite that was launched in 2016. Additionally, through cooperation with Japan, Mongolia launched the Mazaalai CubeSat in 2017 that was built by Mongolian engineers as part of the Joint Multi-National Birds Satellite Project.
The Franco-Mongolian MoU will likely set the stage for greater engagement by French satellite manufacturing companies to market their products to the large, sparsely populated country that has vast deposits of minerals and rare earths and is situated between China and Russia.