A bold initiative
It was in this turbulent context that General Charles de Gaulle decided to signal France’s independence in signing a French-Russian intergovernmental agreement on the peaceful exploration of space.
It was a bold initiative, due to the sensitive nature of the space technologies that would have been used to trigger a nuclear response and to the jealously guarded veil of secrecy surrounding the Soviets’ launchers.
But despite such obstacles, scientists and engineers in both nations very quickly established a fruitful rapport and the agreement soon produced results.
In 1976, the Luna 17 mission put the Lunakhod 1 rover on the Moon. The rover’s laser retroreflectors, developed by French engineers, are still used today to measure the Earth-Moon distance.
Broad and varied cooperation
In 1982, Jean-Loup Chrétien became France’s 1st astronaut on the 1st of 8 French-Russian spaceflight missions, during which French astronauts performed a series of science and technology experiments.
To mark the anniversary of this agreement, CNES is organizing a seminar in Moscow this autumn on the theme Racines du futur (Roots of the future).
Also this year, the “Gagarin stone” from Baikonur, where Yuri Gagarin became the 1st man to be lofted into space, will be laid inside the new Soyuz launch pad in Sinnamary, French Guiana.