The French space agency, National Centre for Space Studies (CNES), has signed an agreement with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to set up a maritime surveillance centre in India.
The two nations will initially share data from their present space systems and develop new algorithms to analyse them.They will then build a constellation of low earth orbiting satellites for maritime surveillance intended to identify and track ships in the Indian Ocean.
This development comes a year after French President and Indian Prime Minister signed a ‘Joint Vision for Space Cooperation’. Besides France,India had also signed an agreement with Russia for India’s human space mission project ‘Gaganyaan’. This project aims to send three Indians to space by 2022.
India and France had earlier formed a working group to explore ways to cooperate on the Gaganyaan project.The scope of the cooperation includes giving ISRO the access to space hospital facilities in France and combining the expertise of the two countries in the field of (a)space medicine (b)astronaut health monitoring (c)life support radiation protection and (d)space debris.Further,experts from ISRO will receive training for the ‘Gaganyaan’ project at the Toulouse Space Centre in France.
The next phase of the programme will be based on orbital infrastructure to be jointly operated by two countries.The two agencies have already put up two climate and ocean weather monitoring satellites Megha-Tropiques (of 2011) and SARAL-AltiKa (2013).These satellites will be supplemented with the launch of Oceansat-3-Argos mission in 2020 and a future joint infrared Earth-observation satellite.