BENGALURU: Did you know that the Indian space programme was launched with the help of the French space agency – the Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES)? It did so by supporting the Indian Space Research Organisation’s sounding rocket programme during its nascent stage.
The programme was launched with the blasting off of an American sounding rocket called ‘Nike Apache’ on November 21, 1963, for which Jacques Blamont, the pioneer of the French space programme and founder of CNES, personally brought to India the rocket-based payload called the Sodium Ejector Payload.
This was the moment of birth of the Indian Space Programme. Three more rocket-based experiments followed this, conducted by the French Centaurus, which was a two-stage solid propellant rocket provided to ISRO by CNES. This and much more little-known aspects of the Indo–French partnership in space will be presented at a unique online historical exhibition ‘ISRO & CNES: A Common History’, hosted by the CNES.
According to a release from the consulate, it will be showcased at the International Space Conference and Exhibition between September 15 and October 10. The exhibition will celebrate the six decades of mutual cooperation between India and France by tracing it from the conception of the Indian and French space programmes.
The collaboration began with a meeting between Jacques Blamont and Vikram Sarabhai, the father of the Indian Space Programme, in Washington DC during the 5th General Assembly of Committee on Space Research in 1962.
This exhibition is an extension to its predecessor developed in collaboration with Alliance Française of Hyderabad/Institut Francais en Inde and the CNES and was hosted at WINGS-India 2020 in Hyderabad as a travelling exhibition.
This version explores friendship between India and France a little further and brings various interesting insights and personal memoirs of people and their families involved during the transfer of liquid propulsion technology. The exhibition will be curated for CNES by Pranav Sharma, a national award-winning science communicator who has curated India’s first interdisciplinary Space Museum in Hyderabad.