Visit of Division General Philippe Adam, French Space Commander
“With thirty years of existence, the SatCen still shows the dynamism of youth, and proves on a daily basis that space is our future, as well as a community of passions. Happy birthday” // Aprés trente ans d’existence, le SatCen montre encore le dynamism de la jeunesse, et prouve au quotidian que l’espace est notre avenir, ainsi q’une communauté de passions. Bon anniversaire!”
On 21 November 2022, Air Division General, Philippe Adam, French Space Commander, visited the European Union Satellite Centre (SatCen), accompanied by a delegation from the French Space Command. This is the Commanders’ first visit back to the Centre, following the official inauguration of the Agency’s extended headquarters, in September, in the context of its 30th anniversary.
The visit aimed to provide an overview of the work and current priorities and activities of the Centre, especially in the context of today’s challenging security environment. SatCen Director Sorin Ducaru provided a briefing on SatCen’s role for CFSP/CSDP and beyond, highlighting the need to both, construct based on the Centre’s three decades of experience, but also develop, in line with the European Union’s increasing levels of ambition in the fields of security, space and defence.
In this context, General Adam expressed his support, stating, “Space is becoming more and more important in what concerns strategic analysis”.
In addition, the Commander and delegation received an operational overview from SatCen’s Head of Operation, Álvaro Rodríguez. The briefing highlighted the work performed to date by the Centre and outlined the evolution, processes and life cycles of satellite imagery and analysis. Mr Alexis Letulier, Head of IT, complemented the briefing, discussing SatCen’s development of Artificial Intelligence tools and future digital platform. In this respect, SatCen’s entrepreneurial spirit was discussed, marked by the development of focused operational applications and solutions that are shared with Member States, and enable better integration and support to European programs.
Mr Denis Bruckert, Head of the Copernicus Unit, highlighted the Centre’s cooperation with the European Commission and with the EU Space Programme. Specific focus was placed on the mutual benefits of the cooperation and the activities performed by the inter-agency cooperation. Furthermore, Mr Bruckert highlighted the Centre’s cooperation with French industry and future perspectives.
Finally, Mr João Alves, Head of Space Situational Awareness, provided a briefing on space surveillance and tracking activities. Within this, three main points were outlined; firstly, Space traffic management and coordination, where SatCen facilitates the coordination and communications between the EU SST consortium and satellite operators to discuss proposed actions and recommendations. Secondly, the Centre’s activities as an SST taskforce on major SST events. In this regard, SatCen leads a dedicated task force –in strong cooperation with Member States- to coordinate and report on major events. The recent re-entry event of the CZ-5B rocket was discussed. Thirdly, Mr Alves touched upon the transfer of the EU SST Front-Desk role from SatCen to EUSPA in the context of the new Space Programme and the new SST partnership.
The briefings concluded with a visit to the operations room, where the General and the delegation got a first-hand briefing from imagery analysts on a wide range of topics of interest.
The visit coincides with the Centre’s 30th anniversary year, and in this context, General Adam congratulated the Centre, “SatCen will remain a key asset for protecting EU interests, security and citizens. Alongside European countries, France has always been a strong partner and supplier of SatCen. We will stand with you in the coming years! I wish you a happy birthday SatCen!”