For more than three decades, France has led continental Europe's push into space and was instrumental in the creation of ESA and its predecessor ESRO. France's first satellite, Asterix, was launched by a domestic booster from a French military base in Algeria. France has been a strong promoter of European space independence but has not hesitated to take advantage of opportunities to cooperate with the larger US and Soviet/Russian space programs. France continues to pursue a broad selection of national, bilateral, and ESA sponsored programs and is taking the lead in Europe in developing military space systems.
The French civilian space program is managed by the Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES), which was established in 1962. The principal objectives of CNES are four-fold: "(1) orienting the French space program by preparing Government decisions, (2) designing, managing, and conducting the actual programs in an industrial context, (3) furthering the know-how of France's space industry, and (4) consolidating research programs with the scientific community" (Reference 16). After a change in government in March, 1993, the following month CNES was placed under joint supervision by the Ministry of Higher Education and Research, the Ministry of Defense, and the Ministry of Industry, Posts, Telecommunications, and Foreign Trade. Gerard Longuet, the head of the last mentioned ministry, assumed the portfolio of Space Minister, only to be replaced by Jose Rossi in October, 1994. An indirect path from the Ministry of Transport via Meteo France also leads to CNES fort coordination of meteorological activities.
With a contingent of nearly 2,500 personnel, the CNES staff outnumbers its ESA counterpart. Led by President Rene Pallet since November, 1992, CNES is managed by Director General Jean-Daniel Levi. Pallet's term expired in October, 1994, but he remained in office at the end of the year as a successor was still being sought. Previous CNES Director Generals have moved on to assume top positions within the French government, including the Minister for Research and Space and Chief of the Delegation General pour l'Armement of the Ministry of Defense, as well as the head of ESA, e.g., Jean-Marie Luton. Reporting to the Director General are seven principal directorates: (1 ) Programs,(2) International Relations, (3) Long Term Analysis and Assessment, (4) Astronauts,(5) Industry and Technical Policy, (6) Quality Assurance, and (7) Communications.
Analogous to ESA, CNES operates four major centers. The largest by far is the Toulouse Space Center, home to approximately 1,650 personnel. Operations centers for SPOT, TDF, and Telecom are located at Toulouse, which also directs tracking, telemetry, and communications control centers at Issus Aussaquel, France; Kourou, French Guiana; Hartebeesthoek, South Africa, and Kerguelen Island. The Guiana Center for Space at Kourou, French Guiana, provides full launch support services for all ESA Ariane space launches, while the Evry Center for Space is the headquarters friance, the CNES subsidiary responsible for managing much of the Ariane program. A fourth CNES center is in charge of atmospheric balloon launchings.
In its role as promoter of the French aerospace industry, CNES has established a number of subsidiaries and special organizations called GlEs (Groupementsd'lnteret Economiques). The best known subsidiaries include Arianespace, SPOT Image, Intespace, and Novespace. The principal aerospace industries in France include Aerospatiale (spacecraft, subsystems, and materials), Alcatel Espace (communications,subsystems, and TT&C), Arianespace (launch vehicles), Dassault Aviation (manned aerospace vehicles>, Intespace (environmental testing), Matra Marconi Space (spacecraft, subsystems, and ground stations), SEP (launch vehicle and spacecraft propulsion), and Thomson-CSF (communications, space technology, and ground support). In 1994 MatraMarconi Space acquired British Aerospace Space Systems to form the largest European space industry. In late 1994 Aerospatiale and Germany's DASA were negotiating a potential merger of their space divisions.
The CNES budget authority continued to grow in 1993 and 1994, but the increases were essentially neutralized by inflation. The final budget for 1994 was 11.997 billion French Francs or 11.662 billion French Francs after government taxes. This latter amount was distributed among five sectors: space transportation (40.3%), space applications (24.1%), science (14.4%), future programs (4.5%), and general support (16.8%). Just over 40% of the CNES budget is earmarked for France's contribution to ESA. Meanwhile the military space budget grew from 3.5 billion French Francs in 1992 to 4.1 billion French Francs in 1994 (References 17-18).
16. A Lightning Tour Through CNES, CNES, Paris, 1992.
17. C. Lardier, "12,1 Milliards F (+1%) Pour Le CNES En 1995", Air and Cosmos, 14 April 1995, p. 35.
18. P.B. de Selding, "French Up Military Spending", Space News, 10-16 October 1994, pp. 1, 20.