France and outer space cooperation
France, a leading space nation, is committed to the universalization and improvement of the implementation of the rules set by space conventions, in compliance with the three main principles which must govern space activities:
- freedom of access to space for peaceful uses;
- preserving the security and integrity of satellites in orbit;
- taking into account the right of self-defense of States.
For this reason, France attaches particular importance to the work of the Committee for the Pacific Use of Outer Space (CUPEEA), in which we are very involved.
France, the launching state via the Guyana Space Center in Kourou, has the largest space industry in Europe (16,000 jobs and a turnover of more than 2 billion euros in 2017), with world leaders like Airbus Defense and Space and Thales Alenia Space, which together represent 40% of the commercial satellite market. France has taken an active part in supporting and implementing the two major emblematic programs of the European Union (EU), Galileo and Copernicus.
Created in 1961, CNES proposes and defines French space policy and implements it on the European level, in collaboration with ESA and the European and international Union, notably within the framework of CUPEEA activities. It currently employs 2,400 people, spread over 4 sites (Paris, Toulouse and French Guiana) and has a budget of 2.4 billion euros. Beyond the Ariane program, launched in 1973 by the European Space Agency and initiated by CNES in order to give Europe the means to put its satellites into orbit, CNES intervenes in the fields of satellite observation (in particular to study the effects of climate change), telecommunications, or defense.
France is particularly committed to the principle of the long-term sustainability of space activities and supports related initiatives. Indeed, the multiplication of space players and the number of satellites launched into space in recent years contribute to the proliferation of space debris and pose risks to the security of space activities, the integrity of satellites and the Space Station International.
Within the framework of CUPEEA, France played an active role in the working group on the long-term viability of space activities and it was, in the person of Gérard Brachet, then president of CUPEEA, on the initiative of the creation of this working group in 2008.
After more than 8 years of intense negotiations, the work of the working group on the long-term sustainability of outer space activities has resulted in a substantial and coherent set of 21 consensus guidelines and their preamble, which were endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly in October 2019 through the resolution 74/82.
France has been implementing the principles contained in the 21 guidelines approved at the 62nd session of the CUPEEA in June 2019, and it will continue its efforts to strengthen the security and long-term viability of space activities.