Space cooperation between India and France
Space cooperation between India and France turned 50 this year, making it India’s oldest and most important collaboration with a European nation. ISRO, the Indian Space Research Organization, is CNES’s number two partner after NASA in terms of volume of activity.
Western observers most often – and quite wrongly – see India as a recent entrant in the space arena. In fact, India became CNES’s second international partner in space after the United States back in 1963. Exchanges at the start of the 1960s between what would later become the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and the fledgling CNES laid the foundations of a low-key but sustained relationship between the two space agencies. This partnership for and through space has often served as a bridgehead, feeding into each bilateral encounter, each summit and each meeting of the French –Indian strategic partnership. Even when tensions were at their highest during the U.S. embargo, France never renounced its attachment to the Indian subcontinent. These episodes of its history are deeply embedded in India’s memory and it is this trust built over the years that underpins all of our bilateral exchanges, notably in space.
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- Cnesmag October 2014