Welcoming Address

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear colleagues,

I am Jean-Claude Souyris, the Deputy Director of CNES’ Technology and Digital Directorate.

François Sillion, the Technology & Digital Director is unfortunately unable to attend this conference, thus giving me the unexpected pleasure  to welcome you today, on behalf of the French space agency, the CNES.

A hearty welcome to the seventieth Conference on Spacecraft Structures, Materials and Environmental Testing in Toulouse.

Welcome to Toulouse!

Beyond the technical assets of this workshop, I hope that you can take some time during the week to discover the charms of our city, which some call the “Pink City”, you will soon discover why.

I would like to start of this speech by thanking the numerous people who have been and are still largely involved in that conference preparation. First of these the Technical and Program Committee, composed of 41 people coming from space agencies, industries, academics, from all over the World. I also want to thank the 66 chairpersons who will manage the 40 splinter sessions. I also wish to thank the CNES organizing committee and the 3 conference chairmen : Christian Hühne form DLR, Tommaso Ghidini from ESA and my colleague from CNES Pierre-Yves Tourneau

It has been a long road since the first conference in Paris in 1985 (almost 40 years ago). In  1985 : 30 papers were presented; today in 2023, about  250 are presented. The first conference was co-organized by ESA and CNES;  our German colleagues from DLR joined the team for the following editions. At that time the main European and French space missions developments were named Ariane 5, Spot, Spacebus, Eurostar and unsurprisingly those historical missions  largely fueled the structural and mechanical developments and challenges.

Since 1985, the annual conferences, organized in the Netherlands, in Germany and in France have always provided the opportunity of addressing at an international level the state of the art and the evolution of the technology and practices in the field of spacecraft and launchers mechanical design, including testing techniques. Each conference has really highlighted specific topics in the domains of structural dynamics, new launchers mechanical environment, mechanical testing, micro-vibrations, shock environment, additive manufacturing…

Then the COVID 19  broke out interrupting the annual rhythm, and leading to the postponement of the last edition, which thanks the DLR organization, could take place 2 years ago, in a virtual format, but in excellent conditions. And we can warmly thank our colleagues friends from DLR for this very successful initiative!

Nevertheless, I am sure that all of you are particularly happy and enthusiastic about attending our conference in standard “real life” conditions.

We hope that this year in Toulouse, you will also find this opportunity to have open and constructive discussions about the current leading subjects. The world-class quality program, the wide representation of the different European countries, Industries or Agencies, involved in the access to Space makes us of course very optimistic about the upbeat atmosphere and the success of this conference. I would like also to emphasize the presence of non-European colleagues coming from America, Asia, Oceania. Thanks a lot for your presence here, for your interest for ECSSMET. This is also the proof that this series of conferences has also become a major event in the Space community all around the world and this is an encouragement to continue to improve the quality of the meeting.

Furthermore, I wish to congratulate the program board for their proposition of three workshop sessions increasing the opportunities for technical exchanges.

Now I should say a few words about some international events that occurred since the last Conference organized by DLR. Among the most striking events (and sorry in advance if some of them are missing), we can quote :

  • The successful landing of Perseverance in Jezero Crater on February 18, 2021, with the start of the scientific mission. Sylvestre Maurice from IRAP will give you a Keynote on the Mars program and the Search for traces of life.
  • Also on Mars, at the End of  2022 : the end of the missions InSight (cooperation between NASA, CNES-IPGP and DLR), that includes a French seismometer which provided very fruitful information on “Marsquake” activity the internal structure of Mars.
  • 25/12/21 : Christmas launch of James Webb from CSG with an Ariane5, and already a wealth of information and amazing images (ex : Jupiter) of planets, exoplanets, and “primordial galaxies”.
  • Launch of ARTEMIS-1 mission in Nov. 2022, which marks the start of a new Odyssey to the Moon. As the primary launch vehicle of the Artemis moon landing program, SLS is designed to launch the crewed Orion spacecraft on a trans-lunar trajectory.
  • Concerning the Orion Spacecraft, partly designed and developed in Europe, the future intentions are the set-up of a moon village that could serve as a base camp to MARS. Later in the morning, Philippe Berthe from ESA will give you an overview of the ARTEMIS program.
  • In the field of Earth Observation, End of 2022  has seen the launch of METEOSAT TG-I1 on A5 VA 259. Meteosat Third Generation (MTG) – 6 satellites – is a highly innovative geostationary satellite system for Europe and Africa to support meteorological and related environmental services, especially for improving forecasts from several minutes up to a few hours (‘nowcasts’).
  • The satellite SWOT led by the French space agency CNES and NASA, was launched in Dec. 2022. It consists of a Ka band radar interferometric altimeter made of 2 transceive / receive antennas separated by a 10 m boom. SWOT will measure the height of water on over 90% of Earth’s surface, providing a high-resolution survey of our planet’s water for the first time. The preliminary results are astonishing, as can be seen on the measurement of Gulfstream topography, seen of your lefts by standard altimeter from COPERNICUS and on you right by SWOT.
  • In the near future, 2 majors ESA missions will be launched, with French contributions aboard: we are now eagerly waiting for the launch of Juice, with the French instrument MAJIS developed by (seeking for traces of life) and the launch of EUCLID (dark energy).
  • The private sector was also very active in this period. We can for example illustrate this frenzy with the ongoing deployment of the STARLINK constellation thanks to the re-usable rockets from SPACE-X.

These examples are of course just very few samples of the astonishing diversity of current and near future space activity

Now I should like to say a few words on who we are, as the CNES and the Technology & Digital Directorate. CNES by the numbers is first 4 strategic priorities laid out in the new contract between CNES and the French Government for the 2022-2025 period, under the banner “new spaces”. With this contract, CNES is consolidating its position as the technical arm of government deploying a space policy to serve the social challenges facing us in the decade ahead.

  • It is a cornerstone of France’s strategic independence, notably through the national military space strategy
  • It is promoting the excellence of the French scientific community worldwide
  • It is delivering data crucial to gain new insights into the Earth system and adapt to climate change
  • It is supporting the broader space ecosystem, and lastly, playing a key role maintaining our competitive edge.

CNES budget in 2022 was 2.5 Billion Euros (it will be raised to 3 Billion/year for the next 3 years as Prime Minister Elizabeth Borne announced during last IAC in Paris). More than 100 space projects are currently led by CNES in 5 key domains. Finally, more than 40 firms (including startups and news entrants) receive support every year  to develop and diversify the French ecosystem.

Since Jan. 2022, CNES has also reshaped its internal organization. One objective of this new organization was to give more visibility and more efficiency to the technical expertise of CNES. The outcome is in particular the setting-up of the Technology and Digital Directorate, which consists of 11 Departments, covering 4 main inter-connected fields of activity:

  • Expertise on technologies (EEE, detectors, antennas, optics, materials…)
  • System and Architecture (mechanics, thermals, flight dynamics, orbitography…)
  • Operations (ground segment, command-control, stations….)
  • Digital Expertise (IT, data, processing…)

These departments are completed by a Deputy Directorate, who is more specifically dedicated to transverse process management such as technical policy, skills and resources management. The Technology and Digital Directorate intervenes both in 3 main fields of activities : CNES launchers and satellite project development, the preparation of the future including technological derisking activities and more recently the provision of technical expertise to French startups.

I will now focus on some ongoing developments in which CNES is more specifically involved.

In the field of launcher activities, CNES is involved in several projects, including A5 exploitation, A6 preparation. End of 2021 has seen the inauguration of KOUROU launching pad ELA-4 with a first A6 fly hopefully by the end of 2023, (combined tests between A6 and ELA4 are currently conducted). Future preparation include the preparation of re-usable launchers, including CALLISTO, the reusable launcher demonstrator, with DLR and Jaxa. Jérôme Villa from MAIA SPACE will give you later in the morning an overview of  The wave of micro/mini launchers in Europe.

As for our on-going developments for Earth Observation Monitoring, focusing on climate change studies, I will focus on a few specific topics. Some of them will be also presented in details through technical papers during this conference.

  • Microcarb, with the mechanical tests currently ongoing in the UK, dedicated to the characterization of carbon sinks.  
  • IASI-NG, which is the new generation of Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer, with temperature and humidity measurements, and more than 25 atmospheric components
  • TRISHNA (Solar + thermal infra-red)  : surface temperature CNES ( CNES, ISRO) ~ 2025
  • MERLIN, DLR and CNES, lidar for CH4 measurements. CH4 being one of the main Greenhouse gaz (after CO2)
    In the field of exploration and Sciences of the Universe, I shall mention :
  • SVOM, with the delivery of the French contribution which was sent recently to China.
  • MMX (Mirs and Rover), with a launch still scheduled for 2024.
  • ATHENA L2, X ray for high-spectral resolution imaging and Wide Field Imager (WFI) – mainly dedicated to research on galaxy formation, black holes, to be launched from 2035. A New Athena Reformulation is in progress in order to cope with new budgets profiles.
  • And finally LISA, The Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) will be the first space-based gravitational wave observatory. Selected to be ESA’s L3, it will address the science theme of the Gravitational Universe. LISA will consist of three spacecraft separated by 2.5 million km in a triangular formation, following Earth in its orbit around the Sun. Launch is expected in 2037.

Now, let’s talk about R&D and preparation of the future :

In addition to those project development activities, R&D and “Future Preparation” activities have been emphasized especially in CNES and let us be very confident for future space missions. The main on-going R&D studies if the Mechanical field of activities are completely in line with the different sessions proposed during this conference, such as :

  • Materials (especially Composites). I can point out R&D developments on Thermoplastic Composites that have very important benefits on storage constraints, welding opportunities, recyclability
  • Manufacturing processes (especially Additive Manufacturing), with lattice structures, ALM dedicated materials, structures functionalization, topological optimization…
  • Shocks: Shock environment is a major concern for many payloads and we are working on improving our ability to simulate and predict shock environment, design and tests

Some other new leading preoccupations have recently been added in our R&D roadmaps such as use of AI in structural analysis and design and new structural challenges in mechanical space and planetary manufacturing as part of the development of the planetary habitat.

I expect that this conference will give you, as all of its preceding editions, the opportunity to have a precise description of the state of the art in the mechanical world of space programs and will give to all of you the opportunity to have fruitful discussions.

I am convinced that all participants will find the conference both useful and informative and I wish it a nice success. I hope you enjoy your week  in Toulouse !

Jean-Claude Souyris
Technology and Digital Directorate Deputy Director
CNES, Toulouse, France