In a multi-session conference on January 9, Francois Delattre, the Ambassador of France to the United States, hosted "French Space Policy: Providing Insights on European Space Challenges and Opportunities."
Gathering experts from multiple stakeholder fields that included government, science, and the aeronautics industry, the event, held at the French embassy, shed light on the current state of Europe-based space activity.
Ambassador Francois Delattre provided introductory remarks, highlighting France's long dedication to space research and public policy "in the service of "Europe" and in conjunction with the EU-administered European Space Agency (ESA).
Among the expert speakers, Thierry Duquesne, Director of Strategy, Programs, and International Relations at France's National Space Agency (CNES), described France's unique history and role in European space capacity.
When Charles de Gaulle was President (1959-1969), his conviction that France should possess autonomous access to space, Mr. Duquesne said, is what provided the initial political will, funding, and research to make the goal a reality. In large part because of France's early leadership role in space activity, Europe now enjoys its own means of launching spacecraft and monitoring weather.
Mr. Duquesne underscored the importance of matching business interests to state-funded research. The next generation of French rockets and satellites "depends on the commercial market," he said. Sectors related to the space industry include a broad palette of scientific and business areas, from climate research and weather surveillance to telecommunications and military intelligence.
The CNES operated a total budget of $2.6 billion in 2012.
Also among the expert speakers was Sean O'Keefe, CEO and Chairman of the Board of EADS North America, a multinational aerospace and defense conglomerate. He served as NASA Administrator, the U.S. space agency's top position, from 2001 to 2005.
Other expert presenters included senior representatives from Arianespace, Astrium Americas, CLS America, Safran, and ThalesAlenia-Space.
Please click here for excerpts from the space policy speech delivered January 9 by Genevieve Fioraso, Minister of Higher Education and Research.