The President of the Centre Centre national d’études spatiales (CNES), Jean-Yves Le Gall, and Zhang Kejian, Administrator of the China National Space Administration (CNSA), chaired the 12th meeting of the French-Chinese space committee in Shanghai on 5 June 2019, devoted to reviewing and developing space cooperation between the two nations.
They also took part in the 9th meeting of the space sub-group of the French-Chinese strategic dialogue, which focused on the CFOSat oceanography satellite launched on 29 October 2018 and the development of the SVOM astrophysics mission. At the space committee meeting, the findings of thematic workshops on Earth science, climate change, life science, space science and lunar and deep space exploration were presented.
Space cooperation between France and China, pursued under an intergovernmental agreement signed in 1997, was further boosted in March 2019 with the signature of an agreement on future space cooperation in the presence of Presidents Emmanuel Macron and Xi Jinping.
This cooperation is again taking centre stage, with the continued analysis by joint science teams of results from CFOSat—which is observing ocean-atmosphere exchanges and in particular surface winds and waves—and the delivery of calibrated data from the satellite to the international scientific community. At the same time, CNES and CNSA are working on their next joint Earth-observation mission, dedicated to ocean salinity and soil moisture.
France and China are also pursuing the roll-out of the Space Climate Observatory (SCO) geared towards providing satellite data in support of tackling climate change and its impacts. In this respect, Jean-Yves Le Gall invited his Chinese counterpart to the signing of the founding document of the SCO on 17 June at the 53rd International Paris Air Show at Le Bourget.
In the field of astrophysics, the SVOM project, now in the final stages of development and set to launch in 2021, will help scientists to better understand the phenomena surrounding gamma-ray bursts and gain new insights into gravitational waves.
Lastly, in the domain of planetary exploration, China will fly French experiments on its Chang’e 6 mission to return samples from the Moon in 2023-2024.