Bilateral relations with France:
France and India view each other as important partners in space technology and applications. Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and its French counterpart Centre National de Etudes Spatiales (CNES) have a rich history of cooperation and collaboration spanning more than five decades. The cooperation started with the setting up of sounding rocket launching facilities at Thumba (India) in the early 1960s and progressed through the development of liquid engines in the 1970s. ISRO and CNES worked as equal partners in the realization of two joint satellites. The MeghaTropiques satellite for monitoring tropical atmosphere was launched in late 2011 and the Satellite for ARGOS and ALTIKA (SARAL) was launched in 2013. Both these satellites were launched using India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). These satellites continue to provide useful data for atmosphere monitoring, environment monitoring and ocean surface topography. Cooperation in space was one of the highlights of the visit of the Indian Prime Minister to France in April 2015 with the following events:
· Joint ISRO-CNES Exhibition: A joint ISRO-CNES exhibition was held at CNES Headquarters (Paris) to mark the completion of 50 Years of Cooperation in Space.
· Signing of MoUs: Two MoUs and a program for reinforced cooperation on Space was signed and exchanged between the two sides as part of the visit.
· Release of Stamps: Two stamps carrying images of jointly developed satellites - Megha Tropiques and SARAL, were released during the visit.
· Visit to CNES, Toulouse: Honorable Prime Minister of India visited CNES facilities at Toulouse and was updated on the bilateral cooperation activities.
Under a commercial Launch Service Agreement between Antrix Corporation Limited and ASTRIUM SAS, a company under EADS, France, an advanced Remote Sensing satellite - SPOT-7 built by ASTRIUM SAS was successfully launched on-board ISRO's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle from India on 30th June 2014. Arianespace, France has been the major provider of launch services to Indian Geo-Stationary satellites. Subsequent to the launch of APPLE satellite on a co-operative mode in June 1981, 19 Geo-Stationary satellites of India have been launched by Arianespace on a commercial basis including the advanced communications satellite GSAT-15 launched on November 10 2015. France has proven to be a reliable supplier for components, spares and equipment for the Indian Space Programme.
The last bilateral meeting between the Chiefs of the Space Agencies of France (CNES) and India (ISRO) was held on 23rd November 2015 at New Delhi. The two sides are currently working on finalizing agreements for the forthcoming visit of French President to India.