Prelims level : Science & Technology Mains level : GS 2: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
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The space agencies of India and France signed an agreement to build a constellation of satellites for maritime surveillance intended to identify and track ships in the Indian Ocean.


  • The pact was signed after ISRO chairman and CNES president held a meeting at Bengaluru and discussed a range of issues to intensify cooperation in the area. The meeting between the CNES president and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)chairman offered the opportunity to confirm the progress of the agencies’ work in the field of human spaceflight to lay the groundwork for missions of future Indian astronauts.
  • A team of experts from ISRO will start receiving training this month at the Toulouse Space Centre, the CADMOS Centre for Microgravity applications and space operations and the MEDES space clinic. Already maritime surveillance satellite, studies are ongoing between the two countries for an orbital infrastructure to be operated jointly by India and France.
  • The CNES-ISRO agreement, intended to supply an operational system for detecting, identifying and tracking ships in the Indian Ocean, provides for a maritime surveillance centre to be set up in India.
  • The two nations will explore putting up a constellation of low-Earth orbiting satellites that will identify and track movement of ships globally – and in particular those moving in the Indian Ocean region where France has its Reunion Islands.
  • Before that, they will initially share data from their present space systems and develop new algorithms to analyse them, according to the Paris based National Centre for Space Studies.
  • For the next phase of the programme, studies for an orbital infrastructure to be operated jointly by the two countries are ongoing. CNES is working with its industry partners and with ISRO to devise the most appropriate technical solution.”
  • The Toulouse Space Centre is a centre for research and development relating to space travel.


  • India and France share a robust relationship with India in three critical sectors nuclear energy, space and defence.
  • The development comes a year after French President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled a ‘Joint Vision for Space Cooperation’ during the former’s visit here in March last year. Besides France, India has signed an agreement with Russia for its ambitious human space mission project ‘Gaganyaan’ under which three Indians will travel to space by 2022.
  • India and France had earlier formed a working group to chalk out ways to cooperate on the Gaganyaan project.
  • The two agencies have put up two climate and ocean weather monitoring satellites Megha-Tropiques (of 2011) and SARAL-AltiKa (2013) that are considered a model.
  • The ambit of the cooperation includes giving ISRO the access to space hospital facilities in France and combining the expertise of the two countries in the field of space medicine, astronaut health monitoring, life support radiation protection and space debris.
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