One year ago, in September 2020, the French government announced an industrial recovery plan: France Relance, a roadmap for the country’s economic, social and ecological rebuilding. This plan is the result of a wide-ranging national consultation process set up to learn the lessons of the crisis. The objective: to build the France of 2030.
e space part divided in 3 main aeras :
The means devoted by the Government and Europe are equal to the stakes: 100 billion euros, or ⅓ of the annual state budget. Several devices have been set up within the framework of the France Relance program concerning the space domain: calls for projects, a call for expressions of interest, all within a governmental support plan in 3 axes.
The first is to cover the additional costs of the Ariane 6 launcher program. The second of 150 million euros, is allocated to financing dual space research, with the aim of preparing the “technologies and skills needed for future dual space capabilities.” The third axis aims to revive the space industry impacted by the crisis “while stimulating the sector around R&D projects, innovation and competitiveness objectives to strengthen their positioning in the long term.”
This third axis benefits mainly projects led by SMEs and ETIs and contracts have already been signed with EREMS, COMAT, MUQUANS, NANOXPLORE, SEREME, SODERN, STEEL ELECTRONIQUE and SYRLINKS. Some of the more than 200 applications processed by CNES are in consultation with the steering committee.
Within the framework of the “Call for collaborative projects” aiming at “structuring the satellite industry upstream and reinforcing the mutualization of precompetitive work and the subcontracting chain”, four projects have just been validated on the following themes Optical Communications, Flexible Telecommunications Satellites, High Speed Satellite Terminals, Data Economy. “In addition to lead partners AIRBUS DEFENCE & SPACE, THALES ALENIA SPACE and DAWEX, nearly 30 partners, startups, SMEs, ETIs and large corporations will be involved in the projects. The “Space applications: springboards for the economy and society” program is aimed at startups and SMEs with innovative service or product projects using space data.
Of the 100 or so projects submitted, 33 will win a prize, financed by France Relance, the amount of which (€100,000, €75,000 or €50,000) will depend on their ranking at the end of auditions (“pitch days”) that will take place in the regions between September 10 and November 19, 2021. Finally, the “Plan nanosatellites” scheme has “nearly twenty applications currently being processed for the “In-Orbit Validation” call for projects, which was launched in partnership with the Occitanie Region.
Vernon, a key point in France Relance:
ArianeGroup’s Vernon industrial site has already been awarded €16 million in public investment contracts, both for engine test benches and for the ecological transition (low-carbon liquid hydrogen).
As part of the engine test bench modification activities, the goal is to be able to test the first complete example of the new low-cost, reusable Prometheus rocket engine as early as 2021. The work will be carried out in synergy with the Themis reusable first stage demonstration, which is also undergoing ground tests at Vernon. A first tranche of this contract was signed in January 2021 during President Macron’s visit to Vernon. The second tranche was signed on June 11, 2021.
Another objective of this section is to build a NewSpace modular test bench (BAMOCRY) to test engines developed by start-ups from 2022. Several letters of intent have already been signed. The investments linked to the recovery of fatal hydrogen (i.e. hydrogen that evaporates naturally on the test benches) will make it possible to avoid the equivalent of 280 tons of CO2 emissions per year. The aim of the work is to recover the hydrogen gas and to recycle it by compressing it and storing it in gaseous form, which will make it possible to supply a future liquefaction unit or a hydrogen vehicle refueling station. ArianeGroup will provide all these services through a network of local companies.
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