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France’s CNES And U.S. Department Of Commerce Sign Agreement Opening Up Cooperation On SSA And Space Traffic Management

Wilbur Ross, U.S. Secretary of Commerce (left), and Jean-Yves Le Gall, President of CNES (right). Photograph courtesy of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

On 23 October 2019, on the sidelines of the International Astronautical Congress, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross signed a Declaration of Intent with Centre national d’études spatiales (CNES) President Jean-Yves Le Gall. The Declaration charts a path forward for expanded cooperation between the Department and the French space agency on space situational awareness (SSA), space traffic management (STM), and other important efforts driving the commercial development of space.

During the ceremony, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross remarked: “As we quickly race towards a trillion-dollar space economy, our relationship with CNES and other like-minded institutions around the globe will become even more crucial. CNES has quickly become a strong partner on space situational awareness, and we look forward to further opportunities to expand our cooperation in the future.”

Following this signature, Jean-Yves Le Gall, President of CNES, declared: “CNES is very excited to establish a dialogue with the Department of Commerce on SSA and STM. It is a wonderful opportunity to work towards a better coordination of the space traffic; it will also enable stimulating innovation, scientific and technological research, sharing SSA information on space objects and events, and improving operational coordination and communication for collision avoidance. We are therefore very much looking forward to starting this dialogue by implementing a future MOU establishing the framework of this relation and reaching our common views of STM in order to ensure the safety and sustainability of outer space.”

The Declaration of Intent formalizes the expanding relationship between the Department of Commerce and CNES, while acknowledging common objectives and our intent to conduct cooperative activities in SSA and coordination of other undertakings in space.

The agreement outlines principles and goals for the relationship including:

  1. Regular coordination and exchange of information regarding SSA, STM, and other space activities;
  2. Encouragement of cooperative facilitation of research, exploration, development, and use of SSA and STM by public and private entities;
  3. Agreement that, at this time, international regulation of space is neither desirable nor necessary;
  4. Coordination of space safety-related operations; and
  5. Signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Commerce and CNES in the near future.

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