India and France have committed to work together to address “current difficulties in space,” such as ensuring security access to space. During their May 4 meeting in Paris, Narendra Modi, who is the Indian Prime Minister and his French colleague Emmanuel Macron reached a larger set of security and economic agreements.
“To confront the current problems in space, including ensuring secure access to space for all,” the two leaders stated in a joint statement. “It will bring together specialists from space and defense organizations, as well as the administration and specialized ecosystem, to address security and economic concerns in space, as well as the standards and principles that apply to space and reveal new areas of cooperation.”
According to the statement, the first session of the dialogue between the two countries will take place this year at the earliest.
To help build India’s space sector, the ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) has offered its testing, labs, as well as quality facilities to private space enterprises since June 2020.
The deal comes nearly a year after the two nations agreed to work together on India’s first human spaceflight mission, Gaganyaan, for which France will provide support. The agreement was reached after ISRO requested France’s assistance in preparing for Gaganyaan’s uncrewed and crewed flights. The mission is also supported by Russia and the United States.
France’s space agency, CNES, will train India’s mission control teams and flight physicians, assist a scientific experiment program on validation missions, plus exchange information about the food packaging as well as spaceflight nutrition under the terms of the 2021 agreement. CNES has also promised to provide Indian astronauts with French-made medical equipment and consumables.
In August 2018, the Gaganyaan orbiting spacecraft project began. To commemorate India’s 75th anniversary of independence, it planned to launch three astronauts into low Earth orbit (LEO) from Indian soil by the year 2022. However, due to pandemic-related lockdowns and supply chain disruptions, the expedition has been postponed.
The Times of India revealed late last month that ISRO is planning its first uncrewed flight test next year. A human-rated variant of India’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV Mk III) rocket featuring a modified upper stage capable of carrying a crew escape mechanism and crew module will be used for the mission.