If France lags behind Germany in terms of its contribution to the European Space Agency’s budget over the next three years (3.20 billion euros, according to ESA, of which 300 million for the European secure constellation, out of 16.92 billion collected in total by ESA; 3.25 billion, according to the Ministry of Economy), has nevertheless made a considerable effort by increasing it by more than 20% compared to Seville in 2019. It has even reduced the financial gap with Germany ( 310 million euros in 2022, against 630 million three years ago).
How come ? Berlin increased its contribution by only 218 million euros while Paris France added 538 million euros more than in 2019. In a joint press release, the Ministry of the Economy and that of Higher Education and Research even speak of a total investment of 3.73 billion euros, including the contribution of “3.25 billion” to ESA.
“These new investments represent 35% of the French budget for the space sector, announced by the Prime Minister, at 9 billion euros over the next three years, which is the first European space budget.”
18.9% of ESA’s budget
The French contribution represents 18.9% of ESA’s next three-year budget (against Germany’s 20.8%). France’s investments within the ESA had two priority objectives: to strengthen European autonomy in the space sector, particularly in terms of access to space, telecommunications and the competitiveness of the European space sector, and to improve knowledge of climate change.
French commitments to science are also on the rise, whether in terms of ESA science missions, Earth observation or exploration programmes.
Unwavering support for Ariane 6
France’s support for Ariane 6 is no surprise. Paris will finance up to 523 million euros for the heavy launcher, which is accumulating delays. France is also not neglecting the future with the pursuit of the Themis reusable first stage demonstrator (50 million euros) and the “low-cost” Prometheus engine (156 million euros). That is 729 million euros in total out of a subscription of 2.8 billion by all member states. To this financial commitment intended for programs carried out by ESA are added actions, which will be carried out at national level by CNES for 125 million euros for the financing of future reusable launchers and 40 million euros for a future heavy engine.
In the field of exploration, France “it also strengthens its position”, estimate the two ministries, allocating 516 million euros. This funding will be used both for the continuation of the Exomars mission despite the end of cooperation with Russia, but also through a significant contribution to the Esprit and I-Hab modules of the future station called “Brings” in lunar orbit and the Martian soil sample return mission, which is expected to return to Earth in 2031.
Stand-by support for the Breton constellation
On telecommunications, France has signed up €400 million to strongly support the R&D (Research and Development) of its industrialists, including up to €300 million for the European security connectivity constellation IRIS², “according to the consortia that will be eligible”, warns Paris. This investment is complemented by 140 million euros, which will be allocated as part of France 2030 to innovative projects in the field of telecommunications.
Finally, as regards climate change, France is investing significantly in programs such as Copernicus, the European Earth observation constellation for 170 million euros, but also in the preparation of future technology for observation of the Land up to 225 million euros. France has also invested (100 million euros) in the future Aeolus 2 satellite, which will measure wind speed anywhere on the surface of the globe.