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France’s CNES Bolsters Cooperation With U.S. In New Year Washington Visit

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.

Centre national d’études spatiales (CNES) President Jean-Yves Le Gall was in Washington, DC, on 17 January 2020 at the invitation of His Excellency Philippe Etienne, France’s Ambassador to the United States, to extend CNES’s New Year wishes to the U.S. space community. He took advantage of his visit to meet Mike Gold, Associate Administrator for NASA’s Office of International and Interagency Relations, and Scott Pace, Executive Secretary of the National Space Council.

At the CNES New Year wishes ceremony, Jean-Yves Le Gall underlined the historic funding secured for ESA programmes for 2020-2024 and the 14% increase in CNES’s budget this year, which will enable it to consolidate its efforts in the four key domains where it is a long-time partner of the United States—in exploration, science, Earth observation and technology demonstrators—and to look forward to new partnerships on the back of its Science Survey Seminar in October 2019.

He then turned his attention to Mars exploration, with the stellar results of the InSight mission and its SEIS seismometer and the launch on 16 July this year of the Mars 2020 rover carrying the French SuperCam instrument. Looking further ahead, the future of Mars exploration is assured with the Mars Sample Return mission, in which the participation of the United States, Europe and France was confirmed in this year’s budgets.

Jean-Yves Le Gall also highlighted the major programmes being pursued by NASA in which Europe and France are prime partners of the United States, with funding to extend operations on the International Space Station through to 2024 and the Artemis lunar exploration programme, through the Lunar Gateway and the delivery of two additional service modules for the Orion capsule. In Universe sciences, the United States is closely involved in several ESA missions, in particular LISA, Athena, ARIEL and LiteBIRD, for which NASA plans to provide CNES with key contributions.

After his meetings, Jean-Yves Le Gall commented: “The French Embassy’s choice of the historic partnership between CNES and NASA to mark the cooperation between France and the United States as the illustration for its Season’s Greetings card puts space at the heart of our two nations’ diplomatic ties. The historic levels of funding approved by the European and U.S. administrations and put in place by our two nations for 2020 encourage us to pursue this historic cooperation: the show will go on!”

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