India, France sign new space deal

Bangalore
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France and India have agreed to carry out a pair of joint satellite missions to study atmospheric and oceanic dynamics, for launch in 2009 and 2010.

The Megha-Tropiques mission, designed to study the life cycle of convective systems and their role in associated energy and moisture budgets of the tropical atmosphere, is planned for launch in 2009-10. The Saral project to study marine meteorology and sea state forecasting is planned for launch during late 2009.

The missions fall under a series of three space-related agreements between the countries, calling for government, academic and industry-level co-operation on peaceful applications of space technology and joint research and development on topics including instrumentation for satellites and development of small satellites.

Another agreement between the Indian Space Research Organisation and EADS Astrium paves the way for a joint satellite launch services operation built around India's PSLV launch vehicle. ISRO chairman G Madhavan Nair describes the alliance as "a new milestone" in French-Indian relations.

Separately, ISRO's Thiruvananthapuram-based Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology and the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris have agreed to enhance academics and research links.