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Jean-Yves Le Gall Unveils Details On Franco-Indian Maritime Surveillance Satellites

The island of Mauritius in the Western Indian Ocean. Photograph courtesy of NASA.

Jean-Yves Le Gall, the President of the French national space agency the Centre national d’études spatiales (CNES), has revealed details about the proposed Franco-Indian satellite-based maritime surveillance constellation that will provide Paris and New Delhi with maritime domain awareness (MDA) data across the Indian Ocean.

In March 2018, India and France unveiled their joint vision for space and resolved to strengthen cooperation between the CNES and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the most recent step in the decades-long partnership between the countries.

The proposed plan includes eight to ten satellites, Le Gall revealed last week according to a report in the Economic Times, as part of a constellation for maritime surveillance, which will focus on the Indian Ocean, a region that has been witnessing increasing Chinese presence.

Le Gall said that France will also share its expertise with the ISRO on inter-planetary missions to Mars and Venus, the ISRO’s two major missions,

“We started (talks) on constellation of new satellites for maritime awareness. Of course, it will take time,” Le Gall said to PTI, according to the report in the Economic Times.

Asked how many satellites will be part of the project, he said, “It would be between 8-10.”

A CNES official added that it is expected to take less than five years to launch the satellites.

The two countries also recently signed an agreement to share expertise on ISRO’s human spaceflight programme, Gaganyaan. The space agencies of the two countries have also been working on climate monitoring on the joint missions Megha-Tropiques (launched in 2011) and Saral-Altika (launched in 2013).

They are also working on the Trishna satellite for land infrared monitoring and the Oceansat-3-Argos mission. Discussing collaboration for the mission to Venus and Mars and France’s expertise on the matter, Matthieu Weiss, the managing director of CNES’ India liaison office, explained, “The eyes and scientific heart of Curiosity Rover (NASA) on Mars were developed by us. France and Russia have jointly worked for the Venus mission in the past. In both the inter-planetary missions the French scientific community is very strong and among best in the world,” Weiss told PTI for the Economic Times.

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