South African and French space agencies ratify partnership implementation agreement

The National Centre for Space Studies (CNES — Centre national d’études spatiales) and the South African National Space Agency (SANSA) have agreed on how to implement their partnership framework.

Both agencies had signed a partnership agreement in 2019 to work together on future space projects. CNES and SANSA signed the deal under the auspices of Jean-Yves Le Drian, France’s Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs, and Lindiwe Sisulu, South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation. The agreement targeted cooperation in space operations, space science, Earth observation, telecommunications, applications, research, and technology.

According to Engineering News, under the latest partnership agreement, CNES and SANSA would work together in three areas. These are climate research, space-based monitoring of malaria zones, and nanosatellites.

South African National Space Agency
Jean-Pascal Le Franc, CNES Director of Planning, International Relations and Quality and Dr. Valanathan Munsami, CEO of SANSA signing the MoU

In climate research: The agencies would implement the Space Climate Observatory (SCO). The SCO aims to study, monitor, and adapt to climate change impacts using space technologies worldwide. With the combination of data sources and scenarios for action, the SCO aims to become an essential tool for decision-making on preparedness, adaptation, and resilience to climate change impacts at the local level.

The space-based monitoring of malaria would combine tele-epidemiology data that satellites collect with data on global warming. SANSA could also use a similar approach to identify the scale and consequences of Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

According to Engineering News, the French Embassy in South Africa has also highlighted the cooperation between the CNES and SANSA.

“In the field of nanosatellites, both space agencies will study the interoperability capabilities of French and South African satellite constellations, in particular, for the collection of marine and environmental data”, the Embassy said. “They [CNES and SANSA] will also work together to train instructors in cubesat technologies (specifically, nanosatellites) in particular by contributing to CNES’ UniverSpace and TTVS space vehicle engineering and technologies programmes”.

CNES created UniverSpace in 2014 as a summer university to introduce higher education students to orbital systems and the challenges, techniques, and space specificities. Thus, giving the students a global vision of orientation, information, and specialisation.

The TTVS (Spacecraft Techniques and Technology) course presents characteristics and specific design constraints of space technology. It describes the techniques and technologies of subsystems onboard equipment.

The French-South African cooperation on space started in the 1980s. SANSA had signed a space mission support contract with the French agency. The relationship has flourished ever since. Ahead of 2016, when the CNES-SANSA Space Operations contract was supposed to end,  both agencies inked another 10-year agreement.

Source: Daniel Iyanda/Space In Africa

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