This Week in Space! December 19, 1961 – France Creates Space Agency CNES
Featured image: The flags of Guiana Space Center, “Europe’s Space Port.” Kourou, French Guiana
This week in 1961, French President Charles de Gaulle established the Centre national d’études spatiales, or the National Center for Space Studies (CNES). Headquartered in Paris, CNES falls under the responsibility of the French ministries of Defense and Research.
Get started on your Space Studies Degree at American Military University.
As of April 2018, of the world’s civilian space programs CNES has the second largest national budget—€2.438 billion—after only NASA.
CNES focuses on five key areas related to space science:
- Access to space
- Civil applications of space
- Sustainable development
- Science and technology research
- Security and defense
The French space program is the largest in Europe and frequently cooperates with the European Union (EU) and the European Space Agency (ESA). According to CNES, “Since 2007 and the Lisbon Treaty, space policy has been one of the responsibilities of the European Union, which has been developing programs to meet Europe’s institutional and commercial demands.”
Two major programs are underway: Galileo for geolocation and Copernicus for the study of the environment, which CNES is participating in, along with the European Commission (EC) and the European Space Agency (ESA).
CNES boasts four “centers of excellence” which perform a range of administrative and space activities to further the organization’s mission. The centers of excellence are:
- National Center for Space Studies, Head Office, Paris
- National Center for Space Studies, Launchers Directorate, Paris
- Toulouse Space Center, orbital vehicles and systems, Toulouse
- Guiana Space Center, “Europe’s Space Port.” Kourou, French Guiana
The French space industry employs more than 14,000 people.