Novespace — the subsidiary of France’s CNES space agency that operates parabolic flights for microgravity tests — has signed an exclusive agreement with the Technology and Engineering Center for Space Utilization (CSU), part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
The agreement, which runs for one year and can be extended twice, was signed in Beijing on 17th January by Thierry Gharib (director general of Novespace), Ming Gao (director of the CSU) and Yang Yang (director of international cooperation) in the presence of Jean-François Clervoy (ESA astronaut and chairman of Novespace), Dianwen Cao (deputy general manager of the Chinese Academy of Sciences), Jean-Pascal Le Franc (CNES director of planning, international relations and quality) and Sophie de Bentzmann (Science Attaché at the French embassy in Beijing).
The CSU provided several experiments for China’s Tiangong 2 orbital laboratory last year and has already flown two experiments on the Novespace A310 Zero-G in 2015 and 2016. Upcoming flights will be used to test new equipment for future Chinese orbital experiments. Most of the flights will take off from Bordeaux-Mérignac in France, but flights in China are also planned.
The agreement marks a drive by the French firm to extend its activities beyond European borders, including Zero-G flights in other countries.
Novespace says the Chinese deal will help to reduce costs for future French and European scientific experiments.