EVOLUTION OF FRENCH PROGRAMS IN THE SPACE LIFE SCIENCES

Alain Esterle

Abstract


Anyone trying today to analyze the orientations of life sciences space programs in the various space-involved countries would probably be impressed by an obvious repetition of the data and schemes. All of the different programs now have the same general orientation, envisage similar intermediate steps, and are aiming at the same general objectives. Since 1987, a large consensus was reached throughout the world between the advanced countries in favor of a permanent presence of humans in space as one of the main objectives and endeavors for the end of this century and into the 21st century.

Such a wide consensus has important consequences. Primarily it facilitates the development of scientific and technical cooperation. On the other hand, it may become more difficult to avoid duplication of experimental equipment and to maintain a sound competitively among the scientific proposals. Finally, for those who wish to analyze the life sciences space program of a given country like France, the important point will not be to notice that this country has a strong program oriented towards humans in space objectives, through support of Hermes flights and Columbus utilization; it will be, rather, to understand how France has moved towards these objectives, what is its scientific and technical background, and what are its domains of expertise and points of excellence, which can then be considered as potential bases for cooperation.

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