By Samantha Douarin, Aeronautics and Space project manager, Export activity - Industry Department, Business France
France represents a little more than half of the European space sector, and it has more than 1,704 companies, 33,200 employees, and a turnover of 10.8 billion euros.
Whether for Earth observation programs to better understand climate change or significant international space exploration missions, France is at the forefront of innovation and plays a decisive role in building the European and international space sector.
French space policy is based on the Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES), world-renowned research laboratories and highly specialised and competitive industrial companies. France's strengths cover various fields such as launch systems, observation satellites, meteorological satellites, scientific satellites, telecommunications satellites, nanosatellites, etc.
CNES invests half of its funds in the European Space Agency (ESA) and collaborates with all the planet's space powers in five main areas: launchers with the Ariane rocket, science (exploration of Mars, the Moon, the International Space Station), Earth Observation, Satellites and Defence.
France represents a little more than half of the European space sector, and it has more than 1,704 companies, 33,200 employees, and a turnover of 10.8 billion euros. Very internationally oriented, 43% of the French space market is aimed at foreign customers.
The French spatial ecosystem is spread over the entire territory. Some regions are particularly active, such as Occitanie (Toulouse), the leading space employer region which hosts key players such as CNES and Onera, industrial partners, and the two main satellite producers, Thales Alenia Space and Airbus Defense & Space, or Île-de-France, which has 8,600 employees and includes most of the headquarters of major groups, and finally Guyana, Kourou hosting the Guyana space centre, a French and European launch base.
The IAC (International Astronautical Congress) 2022, which was held in September in Paris, was an opportunity to announce significant investments in the coming years for research and the French space industry. The ambitions mainly concern launchers, industrial competitiveness, exploration, climate and defence. Particular attention will also be paid to reusable launchers, mini and micro-launchers, constellations, space surveillance and in-orbit services.
The United States is France's leading partner with projects in oceanography (Jason satellites), on Mars (Curiosity, Insight, Mars 2020) and the Moon (signing of the Artemis agreements in 2022). The country also collaborates with India in climate monitoring (Saral/Altika and Meghatropics satellites), with China (CFOSat satellite to observe winds and waves, participation in the future Chang'e 6 lunar mission where the France will provide 25 kg of scientific experiments), with Japan (Mars Moons Explorer mission with a rover which will go to the moons of Mars in 2024).
Australia is also one of the countries with which France collaborates. On September 1, 2018, the Australian Space Agency (ASA) signed its first international cooperation agreement with CNES. This agreement establishes a framework for strategic discussion between the two space agencies promoting the establishment of partnerships to develop the French and Australian space industries on niche technologies with high potential. It will be followed by specific agreements to implement each joint project. The main areas of cooperation between CNES and ASA are satellite technologies (miniaturization, onboard data processing, etc.), Earth observation, particularly with the study of the climate, navigation and associated applications, stratospheric balloons, and regulatory aspects. The two agencies intend to use artificial intelligence to focus on embedded data processing technologies.
Moreover, the Australian National Space Industry Hub has announced that it will work with French aerospace hub Aerospace Valley after the two signed a memorandum of understanding. The deal represents a significant step forward for bilateral space industry relations between France and Australia. Aerospace Valley and the National Space Industry Hub share similar goals in the development of their national space industries through the provision of incubator services to assist budding space industry entrepreneurs and start-ups.
The French Trade Commission (Business France) is organizing a mission to Australia from October 24 to 28 to strengthen commercial ties between Australia and France in the space sector.
Business France is the national agency supporting the international development of the French economy, responsible for fostering export growth by French businesses, as well as promoting and facilitating international investment in France. It promotes France’s companies, business image and nationwide attractiveness.
Business France and CNES (which have just signed a letter of intent to support French Space companies in their international development) will conduct a 5-day mission from October 24 to 28 in Australia. This mission will allow the French delegation of 15 companies to meet the local space ecosystem and strengthen commercial ties between the two countries.
The mission's first stage will take place in Adelaide, where the delegation will meet the Australian Space Agency and the South Australia Space ecosystem, followed by the 14th Australian Space Forum, where Business France will have a French booth. The third day will take place in Canberra, where the French companies will discuss potential trade opportunities. Finally, the roadshow will stop in Sydney, where the delegation will have an exciting journey with the NSW Space ecosystem and Government agencies.
Come along to meet the French delegation that includes big, world-wide-renowned players, well-established SMEs and innovative startups:
3D PLUS (supplier of advanced high-density radiation tolerant components miniaturized), ARIANESPACE (leading global launch services company), AXON CABLE (Interconnect solution such as wires, cables, connectors, harnesses for harsh environment), CS Group (design, development, integration and operation of secured space software and service), DASSAULT SYSTEMES (solutions for sustainable innovation), INSIGHT (Satellite imagery, mapping services based on AI, trainings), MECANO ID (mechanical and thermal subsystems for the space sector), MEWS Partners (independent management consulting firm), PLUG'IN (design and manufacturing of hermetic feedthroughs using epoxy based technology), Safran (Space: technologies for rocket propulsion systems, satellites, ground stations and high- performance space optics), SHARE MY SPACE (startup specialized in Space Situational Awareness), SODERN (development of cuttingedge technology for the space, defense and neutron analysis markets), SYNTONY (design, manufacture and market high-performance positioning, navigation and testing solutions based on SDR GNSS), and THALES (multinational technology company delivering trusted, mission critical solutions).