50 Years of India France Space Cooperation
India has one of the longest cooperation in space science with France. Exchanges and cooperation between the two nations began in 1960s and the first French-Indian space cooperation agreement was signed in the year 1964. The agreement paved way for the transfer of solid-propulsion technologies to India and also covered licenses to build Belier and Centaure sounding rockets in India. India built 50 French rockets locally and from 1965 onwards launched them at the Thumaba Equatorial Launch Site in Kerala. This was done under the patronage of the UN, overseen by a CNES (Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales – France Space Agency} team. Also, ISRO has become number two partner of CNES after NASA in terms of volume of activity.
Launch of satellites
India has used the Guiana Space Centre in French Guiana to launch its satellites. France has used India’s expertise in sending light satellites into the orbit.
In 2011, ISRO and CNES launched Megha-Tropiques, which was a joint satellite mission launched to study the water cycle and energy exchanges in the tropics. In 2013, another joint satellite SARAL or Satellite with ARgos and ALtiKa was launched to conduct oceanographic studies.
ISRO has built Vikas engine, which is a liquid fuelled rocket engine based on Viking 4A engine built by CNES of France.
Stationing of Space counselor
France is one of the few countries which have a space counselor stationed in ISRO’s headquarters Bengaluru.
50 Years of Cooperation
India and France had completed 50 years of space cooperation in 2015. The celebrations are still going on. To mark 50 years, new projects dealing with mapping of water resources, environment and weather monitoring, a joint Thermal Infrared Earth observation mission, hosting of the French instrument for data collection on India’s Oceansat-3 satellite have been announced. Implementing arrangements were signed between the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and the French government space agency CNES. It is believed that these agreements will contribute significantly to the monitoring of weather, environment, water resources and coastal zones. The participation of France’s CNES in ISRO’s future space and planetary exploration missions has been already announced.
Last year, the Department of posts had also released two stamps and miniature sheet on theme ‘India-France: 50 Years of Space Cooperation’.