Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) and French space agency (CNES) have signed a partnership agreement in satellite launch technology. Isro chairman Kiran Kumar and CNES president Jean-Yves Le Gall signed the agreement in the presence of visiting French minister of foreign affairs and former prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault.
While space cooperation between India and France is over 50 years old and is a part of Indo-French strategic partnership, the latest agreement covers a joint moon mission with private partnership.
CNES and Isro will be teaming up with Team Indus on this maiden private mission to land a rover on the moon – the first time CNES will be deploying its technology to explore the lunar terrain.
Accordingly, the two agencies signed a partnership agreement for equipping Axiom Research Lab's lunar rover with two of the latest-generation CASPEX micro-cameras, developed by CNES in partnership with French firm 3DPlus.
Ayrault, accompanied by the French delegation, also visited Isro's Telemetry Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC), reports quoting a French Consulate release said.
ISTRAC monitors Indian space missions, including the two Indo-French satellites currently in orbit for collecting data to track climate change. India and France will be scaling up cooperation on the upcoming lunar rover and future space launchers.
A closer cooperation with Isro will help CNES to benefit from the Indian model of streamlining the costs of space programmes.
Although the French space agency collaborates with NASA as well, its partnership with Isro could bring more dividends as the two share similar objectives and complementary space programmes.
Ayrault also met Rahul Narayan, the CEO of Indian start-up `NewSpace' that put forward Team Indus, the only Indian team competing for the Google Lunar XPRIZE, a global competition for engineers and entrepreneurs to develop low-cost methods of robotic space exploration.