French President visits ISRO

Note: I wrote this on my earlier blog hosted as I recovered the text from the WayBack Machine. This post appeared on December 06, 2010 as per the time stamp. I’m trying to collect here again all my old writings spread on various blogs.

Not many heads of state come and visit the high-tech labs within India’s space agency, ISRO. Perhaps the fact that the development of Megha-Tropiques and Saral were on, led the French President to visit the facility with First Lady Carla Bruni.

ISRO Chairman Radhakrishnan’s opening remarks on how ISRO was helped in its propulsion systems technology by the French. He revealed that ISRO had signed a deal with ARIANESPACE to launch India’s GSAT-8 in 2011 and GSAT-10 in 2012. He revealed that perhaps INSAT-3D would also be launched using ARIANESPACE’s launch vehicle. INSAT-3D was to be launched on board a GSLV Mk-2. Perhaps it’s failure to launch this year has pushed launches of critical satellites into ARIANESPACE. The only major deal to have been signed is with EADS Astrium, for which ISRO had built the Eutelsat-W2M and HYLAS-1.

The French President’s remarks seem to have been directed at a more general audience than in ISRO itself talking about the United Nations, Afghanistan and Nuclear and  education Co-operation.  Further into his speech he said two lines without elaborating much but which are interesting: “We will launch Indian satellites from Kourou, and European satellites from India. CNES and ISRO will develop a new research programme together.”

India already uses Kourou to launch various of its satellites but no pure European commercial satellite has been launched by India. For now, PSLV may be able to afford Europe a cheaper flight option than perhaps EADS. In an earlier report, EADS had suggested this as a possibility. The French President did not confirm this, though. The second line is interesting because of the shape this new research programme will take.

The other interesting statement from the French President’s speech is the “an unprecedented technological experiment that India is conducting to understand its population” reference. I am not aware of this experiment at all and have been trying to understand this reference.

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