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"The state should not retreat from space research under the pretext of encouraging industrial innovation."

“The state should not retreat from space research under the pretext of encouraging industrial innovation.”

a Summer 2020, on the occasion of a cabinet reshuffle, the supervision of the French space sector has moved from the Ministry of Research and Innovation to the Ministry of Economy and Finance, for the first time in sixty years.

For the National Center for Space Studies (CNES), this transfer represents an unprecedented change. Responsible for implementing public space programs, and a key contributor to Ariane launcher development and innovation, the National Center for Space Studies has always been a major player in scientific research, aiming to understand and protect our planet, explore the universe, or study the laws of nature and living things thanks to microgravity. Thus, the National Center for Space Studies plays a major role in the scientific missions of the European Space Agency (ESA) and other international partners, such as NASA. [l’agence spatiale américaine].

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To do this, it relies on an extensive network of university laboratories – with the National Center for Scientific Research and the Atomic Energy Commission – and industrial companies. This ecosystem has built the legend of the French space. This was recently acknowledged by the Prime Minister, Jean Castex, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the French National Center for Space Studies, by emphasizing that the historic cooperation “Between research laboratories and industries remains one of CNES’s greatest assets” And ‘One of its main strengths’.

commercial applications

Therefore, as the new Minister in charge of the CNES, Bruno Le Maire, on December 6, delivered Speech Determine its vision for the French space strategy. This view appears to be opposed to scientific research in space and the new commercial applications of space. For him, the priority of the French space program should now be“industrial adventure”. must join the The World of Competitiveness and Finance.

Of course, we can only hope that our economy will benefit from the French expertise in space. France must take its place in the “new space” [terme qui désigne l’irruption d’acteurs privés spécialisés dans le domaine spatial], by relying not only on existing operators but also by supporting “young shoots” who will eventually be able to conquer emerging markets in the sector. In the future, science and exploration will also benefit from these new players.

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However, this project will not succeed in the long term if the state moves away from space research under the pretext of encouraging industrial innovation. Indeed, besides the knowledge and services it provides, research has always been the main driver of innovation in the space. It is the root of most of the applications we benefit from today: meteorological and oceanographic forecasts, GPS systems, Earth observation, resource monitoring, risk and pollution management, climate change, etc.

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