Bilateral relations with France

France and India view each other as important partners in space technology and applications. Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and its French counterpart Centre National de Etudes Spatiales (CNES) have a rich history of cooperation and collaboration spanning more than six decades. The cooperation started with the setting up of sounding rocket launching facilities at Thumba (India) in the early 1960s and progressed to various areas of space activities in the coming years. ISRO and CNES worked as equal partners in the realization of two joint satellites. The MeghaTropiques satellite for monitoring tropical atmosphere was launched in late 2011 and the Satellite for ARGOS and ALTIKA (SARAL) was launched in 2013. Both these satellites were launched using India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). These satellites continue to provide useful data for atmosphere monitoring, environment monitoring and ocean surface topography.

Cooperation in space was one of the highlights of the visit of the Prime Minister of India to France in April 2015 with the following events:

  • Joint ISRO-CNES Exhibition: A joint ISRO-CNES exhibition was held at CNES Headquarters (Paris) to mark the completion of 50 Years of Cooperation in Space. 

  • Signing of MoUs: Two MoUs and a program for reinforced cooperation on Space was signed and exchanged between the two sides as part of the visit. 

  • Release of Stamps: Two stamps carrying images of jointly developed satellites - Megha Tropiques and SARAL, were released during the visit. 

  • Visit to CNES, Toulouse: Honorable Prime Minister of India visited CNES facilities at Toulouse and was updated on the bilateral cooperation activities.

A vision document, detailing the areas of cooperation in the future was released during the visit of French President to India in March 2018. The vision document addresses the following:

  • Bringing societal benefits of space technology 

  • Imaging Earth in high resolution 

  • Space domain and situational awareness 

  • Addressing the global challenges including climate change 

  • Cooperation in satellite navigation and related technologies 

  • Exploring the solar system and beyond 

  • Cooperation on Space Transportation Systems 

  • Developing technologies for human exploration of the universe

ISRO and CNES are closely working on a number of cooperative programs on earth observation, space geodesy, human spaceflight, future launch vehicle technologies, and planetary exploration.
ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) has launched 4 French satellites on commercial basis. Arianespace, France has been the major provider of launch services to Indian Geo-Stationary satellites. Subsequent to the launch of APPLE satellite on a co-operative mode in June 1981, 24 Geo-Stationary satellites of India have been launched by Arianespace on a commercial basis including the advanced Indian communications satellite GSAT-24 launched in June 2022. France has proven to be a reliable supplier for components, spares and equipment for the Indian Space Programme.


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