France and the United States signed today an agreement for the "use of Istres Le Tubé 125 Air Base as a transoceanic abort landing site" for the Space Shuttle from the Return to Flight onward. This Agreement is in implementation of the International Space Station Intergovernmental Agreement done at Washington on January 29, 1998.
The Agreement was signed by His Excellency Jean-David Levitte, Ambassador of France to the United States, and the Honorable Michael Griffin, NASA Administrator, during a ceremony at NASA Headquarters in Washington D.C. It was concluded with an exceptional cooperation mindset and the French Air Force made their best effort to ease the implementation of all required technical and human resources.
Through this Agreement, the Space Shuttles assigned to the International Space Station may land at the 125 Air Base of Istres Le Tubé in the event of an emergency. Therefore, the Space Shuttles are authorized to enter and overfly the French airspace. Further, the French authorities will take all the necessary measures to ensure the security of the spacecrafts and their crews. The institutions in charge of the implementation of the Agreement are for the Government of the French Republic, the French Air Force, and for the Government of the United States, NASA.
"I see here another demonstration of the long lasting friendship between our two countries", said Ambassador Levitte at the signing ceremony. "I have no doubt that it paves the way for further collaboration in the framework of the Space Exploration initiative".
Collaboration in Space between France and the United States is very active since the beginning of the 60's and has materialized by numerous jointly-lead programs with great results, notably in the fields of Space Sciences and Earth Observation.