Tuesday 29 January in Tel Aviv, CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall was at the 14th Ilan Ramon Conference to take part in a Q&A panel session on NewSpace moderated by Jan Wörner, Director General of the European Space Agency (ESA). He also met Avi Blasberger, Director General of the Israel Space Agency (ISA) to discuss ongoing and future joint projects, in particular the VENμS and C3IEL missions.
The digital economy is enabling the space sector to develop smaller satellites, and given that the cost of a launch is proportional to a satellite’s mass, it is today getting considerably cheaper to own a space system. This trend towards miniaturization and lowering of production costs has encouraged new firms to move into the satellite data market. From a supply-driven economy fuelled by satellites and launchers, we are moving towards an economy driven by demand for useful data that promises to spawn a profitable market. The space sector is now proposing genuine infrastructures geared towards delivering data. It is this shift in the space ecosystem that has given birth to the NewSpace movement. The other trend shaping the space sector is globalization, as today there are more than 50 space nations. In this context, legacy players need to do things differently and CNES has identified three solutions to meet the challenges posed by this new ecosystem: scientific excellence, increasingly active international cooperation and stronger integration of the French space ecosystem.
The French-Israeli VENμS satellite dedicated to close monitoring of Earth’s vegetation is working well. It has extended the number of sites it is tracking from 108 to 208, thus further spotlighting the mission’s science results, as will the new version of the ground segment currently undergoing commissioning and scheduled to enter service at the end of February.
In this buoyant context, CNES and ISA signed a statement of intent in 2018 to develop a new mission to study cloud tops and help to deliver unique data supporting climate science. A French-Israeli science team, with French and Israeli co-principal investigators, has been set up to work on its different applications and a phase A study for this mission named C3IEL (Cluster for Climate and Cloud Imaging of Evolution and Lightning) is underway.
On the sidelines of this event, Jean-Yves Le Gall commented: “The Ilan Ramon Conference has become a must-attend event for the international space community. The theme chosen this year—“Towards space Commercialization”—is a key part of what we are doing together, spurred by the success of VENμS which was a big feature of the France-Israel 2018 Season, in which space was spotlighted by the highest French and Israeli authorities.”