France and India are to collaborate on the development of a new satellite-based ship tracking system, following an agreement between CNES, the French space agency, and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
The deal was signed during a state visit to France by India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, paving the way for development and production to start on a constellation of satellites first envisioned during President Emmanuel Macron’s state visit to India in March 2018.
The constellation will carry automatic identification system (AIS), radar and optical remote-sensing technologies capable of tracking ships continuously, CNES said. The satellites will be operated jointly by France and India to monitor ships in the Indian Ocean, but will have the ability cover a wide belt around the globe.
CNES and ISRO have already worked together on previous satellite projects, powering applications for food security (monsoon forecasting), water resource management and climate research. An infrared climate-monitoring satellite is also under development by the parties, and India’s next oceanography satellite will carry a CNES Argos instrument into orbit in 2020.
“CNES’s and ISRO’s teams are both very proud to see, in the presence of President Macron and Prime Minister Modi, this new step forward in our cooperation in space,” said CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall.
“Our technologies today occupy an unprecedented place in the world economy and it is through large-scale international partnership projects like these that we will promote and develop our excellence.”