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France To Support Indian Human Spaceflight And Space Station Ambitions

India and Sri Lanka as seen from low-Earth orbit. The daylight panorama was taken by the crew of the Gemini 11 spacecraft (September 1966) and shows coastlines and land surface color, but no details of human geography. This classic view was taken on an early space flight at a similar altitude to that of the ISS. Patterns of bright white cloud cover much of the land surfaces of India and Sri Lanka. Photograph courtesy of NASA.

Centre national d’études spatiales (CNES) President Jean-Yves Le Gall was the guest of honour at the international Human Spaceflight Symposium organized in Bangalore, India, on 24 January 2020 by the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA), the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), and the Astronautical Society of India (ASI). On this occasion, he called for cooperation between France and India in human spaceflight to be pursued in the long term, with CNES’s support for the Gaganyaan missions as the first step towards future collaboration on the development of India’s planned space station.

In his speech, Jean-Yves Le Gall underlined that France has acquired over 40 years of experience in human spaceflight and developed highly sophisticated facilities in this field in Toulouse, such as the CADMOS centre for the development of microgravity applications and space operations and the MEDES space medicine and physiology institute, backed by world-renowned French expertise in space medicine. CNES and its industry partners have gained extensive expertise through resupply flights to the International Space Station (ISS) of the European Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) and from several long-duration space missions such as the flight of France’s ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet.

CNES and ISRO’s teams have also finalized drafting of the agreement to provide services at CADMOS, at MEDES in collaboration with ESA’s European Astronaut Centre (EAC) and potentially at Novespace to conduct experiments and training on parabolic flights aboard the Air Zero G.

CNES and ISRO had previously signed an agreement in 2018 when the Gaganyaan programme was first announced, providing for training in France of Indian flight physicians and the use of equipment developed by CNES by India’s future astronauts.

After his trip to Bangalore, Jean-Yves Le Gall commented: “CNES is eager to help ISRO develop its expertise and initiatives in the domain of human spaceflight. We want cooperation between France and India in human spaceflight to evolve into a long-term partnership along the same lines as our 15-year collaboration on climate-monitoring satellites and 50 years working together on launchers.”

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