The French Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Marc Ayrault was in attendance as were ISRO Chairman Kiran Kumar and CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall while both the Indian Space Research Organization and French Space agency (CNES) signed a partnership agreement in satellite launch technology.
This was an auspicious moment as two nations, France and India, who have enjoyed space cooperation between themselves over the span of 50 years signed a partnership agreement for equipping Axiom Research Lab's lunar rover with two of the latest-generation CASPEX micro-cameras, developed by CNES in partnership with French firm 3DPlus.
Ayrault, accompanied by the French delegation, was given a guided tour of ISTRAC (ISRO Telemetry Tracking and Command Network) by the ISRO chairman, according to a French Consulate release. ISTRAC monitors Indian space missions, including the two Indo-French satellites currently in orbit for collecting data to track climate change.
ISRO is the second partner of CNES, in terms of volume, after NASA. The network is of a comparable size and shares similar objectives, and the space programs of both countries are complementary. Strengthening the CNES-ISRO partnership will enable France to benefit from the Indian model of streamlining the costs of space programs.
Ayrault also met Rahul Narayan, CEO of leading Indian start-up, Axiom Research Labs. This start-up put forward TeamIndus, the only Indian team competing for the Google Lunar XPRIZE, a global competition for engineers and entrepreneurs to develop low-cost methods of robotic space exploration. As TeamIndus races to design an all-terrain rover by year's end-2017 for this lunar mission, the French Space Agency will provide it with cameras. In joining forces with Team Indus on this first private mission to land a rover on the moon, CNES is sending French technology for the first time on lunar terrain.
US$20M will be granted to the first private company that successfully lands a module on the Moon, places a robot that explores at least 500 meters and then transmits high-definition videos and images back to Earth.