Le Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales

Founded in 1961, the Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) is the government agency responsible for shaping and implementing France's space policy in Europe.
Its task is to invent the space systems of the future, bring space technologies to maturity and guarantee France's independent access to space.

Founded in 1961, the Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) is the government agency responsible for shaping and implementing France's space policy in Europe.

About CNES
Innovation & inspiration
CNES at a glance
Four centers of excellence
International partnerships
CNES and employment
CNES, an undisputed benchmark
Space, a French ambition

Innovation & Inspiration

Jean-Yves Le GALL
CNES President
January 2016

The space sector worldwide is currently undergoing major change. The decreasing cost of access to space has enabled evermore numerous States to develop their own space activities, while new players from the Internetn are applying innovative methods to the space sector that are changing the nature of the game. CNES has therefore adapted and adjusted its organization to meet these new challenges.

First, by being attentive to the business environment and adapting our strategy. This is precisely what we did to obtain the go-ahead for Ariane 6, assuring continuity after 35 years of successful Ariane launchers. It is also what we are doing to help French industry keep pace with developments in the satellite market.

Second, by developing our programs and organization. This is what inspired CNES’s new targets and performance objectives contract for 2016-2020, a roadmap we named Innovation & Inspiration because these are the two values underpinning CNES’s activities day after day.

Finally, by remaining on the forefront of the international space scene. After the planetwide success of the Rosetta-Philae mission in 2014, CNES played a vital role in 2015 by paving the way for the COP21 climate change conference and more generally by combatting global warming, materialized by the go-ahead for the MicroCarb satellite.

Throughout 2016, we shall consolidate our capacity for innovation and the fields in which we excel to support all our programs, from national dual-use missions to international projects, so that CNES will remain more than ever before a key player in the space arena in order to prepare tomorrow’s space program.

Innovation & Inspiration are the two values underpinning CNES's activities day after day.

CNES at a glance

Founded in 1961, the Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) is the government agency responsible for shaping and implementing France's space policy in Europe. Its task is to invent the space systems of the future, bring space technologies to maturity and guarantee France's independent access to space.

It conceives and executes space programmes with its partners in the scientific community and industry, and is closely involved in many international cooperation programmes—the key to any far-reaching space policy.

The agency's more-than 2,400-strong workforce constitutes an exceptional pool of talent, with some 1,800 engineers and executives, 35% of whom are women.


CNES key figures

2 445,9 workers

Paris/Les Halles: 189,7; Paris/Daumesnil: 222; Kourou: 298; Toulouse & Aire-sur-l’Adour: 1736,2

Annual budget

*source: CNES, january 2016.

Space, a French ambition

People have always wanted to know what lies beyond the horizon. Raising their eyes to the stars, they set off to conquer space.

As early as the 1960s, France made space a strategic priority, and a key factor of sovereignty. Fifty years later, space has become crucial in the daily life of citizens and the workings of governments.
It is also a driving force behind the economy and job creation.

Milestones that have marked French space activities include:

1961: Création du CNES

Foundation of CNES with the remit to shape and direct French space policy.

1965: Diamant

France becomes the third space power with the launch by Diamant of the Astérix satellite.

1979: Ariane 1

Ariane's maiden launch from the Guiana Space Center. Its success lays the foundation for the French and European space industry.

1986: Spot

Earth observation for strategic and commercial purposes becomes a reality with the launch of the first Spot satellite.

1995: Hélios

Military authorities can anticipate crisis situations and support operational missions through the Hélios program.

2006: Corot

Science leaps forward with Corot, which discovers numerous planets outside the solar system.

2014: Rosetta

The planet is enthralled by Philae's historic encounter with its comet while, on France's initiative, Europe decides to go ahead with Ariane 6.

CNES, an undisputed benchmark

With its many talents, CNES plays a key role on the French, European and international space stage, lending impetus, stimulating new proposals and providing technical expertise.


Second space budget in the world

With slightly more than €30 per capita per year, France's civil space budget comes second only to the United States (€46), ahead of Germany (€16) and the United Kingdom (€6).

This budget testifies not only to the high priority given to space by French authorities but also the remarkable efficiency of CNES, whose programs guarantee the highest possible return on investments.<

International partnerships

CNES & Europe

Since 1975, the European Space Agency has been conducting European space policy on behalf of its member states. With 20 member states and 2,200 employees, its leading contributor is France, represented by CNES, which guarantees Europe's independent access to space and helps prepare new-generation space systems and develop international cooperation.

Since the Treaty of Lisbon in 2007, space policy has become one of the responsibilities of the European Union, which develops programs meeting Europe's institutional and commercial needs. The main two ongoing programs are Galileo for satellite positioning and Copernicus for environmental studies. CNES is participating in both, alongside the European Commission and the European Space Agency.

International partnerships

CNES also leads numerous projects with international partners outside Europe. Partnerships reduce the cost per participant, making it possible to initiate major projects together, capitalize on France's scientific and industrial expertise, and acquire new skills.

Partnerships have led to many successes in the past. Today, numerous programs are underway with most of the world's space powers:

United States : oceanography (Jason 3, Swot), search-and rescue (Cospas-Sarsat), Mars exploration (Curiosity, Insight, Mars 2020)
China : oceanography (CFOSat), astrophysics (Svom), space medecine (Cardiospace)
India : atmospheric research (Megha-Tropiques), altimetry (Saral-AltiKa)
Russia : launch system (Soyouz au Centre spatial guyanais), research and technology
Japan : research and technology, preparation of the future

Moreover, CNES maintains an ongoing dialogue with most of the other space powers on the planet (Brazil, Canada, United Arab Emirates, Mexico, Thailand, etc.) for the benefit of the entire French and European space community.

CNES and employment

By inventing tomorrow's space systems, CNES is stimulating technological innovation, economic development and France's industrial policy.

CNES drives innovation to boost employment, 80% of CNES's budget returning to French industry.

In mainland France, the space sector generates 16,000 jobs, the French space industry representing 40% of Europe's space industry..

The Guiana Space Center provides 1,700 direct jobs but generates five times more indirectly, accounting for 15% of all employment in French Guiana.


Four centers of excellence

CNES employs some 2,500 men and women with a passion for space and its infinite innovative applications for society.


CNES – Toulouse Space Center
18, avenue Édouard Belin
31401 Toulouse Cedex 9
Tél. : +33 (0)5 61 27 31 31

Implanté en Midi-Pyrénées depuis 1968, le Centre spatial de Toulouse (CST) est le plus grand centre technique et opérationnel du CNES. Ses ingénieurs étudient, conçoivent, développent, réalisent, mettent à poste, contrôlent et exploitent les systèmes orbitaux.

Paris Daumesnil

CNES – Launch Vehicles Directorate
52, rue Jacques Hillairet
75612 Paris Cedex
Tél. : +33 (0)1 80 97 71 11

À Paris Daumesnil, la Direction des lanceurs (DLA) développe, depuis plus de 40 ans, tous les lanceurs de la famille Ariane. Ses spécialistes sont plus que jamais engagés dans l’avenir du lanceur européen au sein d’une équipe intégrée avec l’Agence spatiale européenne.


CNES – Guiana Space Center
BP 726
97387 Kourou Cedex
Tél. : + 594 (0)5 94 33 51 11

En Guyane, les équipes du Centre spatial guyanais (CSG) sont chargées de réaliser les lancements de la gamme des lanceurs européens. Idéalement situé à proximité de l’équateur, le port spatial de l’Europe est un atout majeur du programme spatial européen.

PARIS/Les Halles

CNES – Head Office
2, place Maurice Quentin
75039 Paris Cedex 01
Tél. : +33 (0)1 44 76 75 00

Enfin, à Paris Les Halles, les collaborateurs du siège élaborent la politique spatiale de la France et de l’Europe et pilotent les programmes du CNES, qu’ils soient conduits dans un cadre national, européen ou international.

Five strategic focuses

Innovation & Inspiration

After the historic successes chalked up in 2015, 2016 and the coming years will be crucial for French and European space policy. CNES is therefore constantly adapting its roadmap, dubbed Ambition 2020, to develop its capacity for innovation and ensure France remains one of the leading space powers.

Supported by an ambitious, determined French space policy with a successful track record, the advantages of a budget that gives it the means to achieve its ambitions and by the dynamism of its experienced, enthusiastic employees, CNES will continue to invest in its five strategic areas of interest.

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independent access to space is an issue of national sovereignty, guaranteed by the full range of European launch vehicles.



2014 will obviously be remembered as the year that saw the global triumph of Rosetta and the successful landing of Philae on the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko.



our planet is under constant scrutiny by satellites that observe it, study its atmosphere and provide crucial meteorological, oceanographic and altimetry data.



satellites play a vital role in such areas as broadband telecommunications, positioning, environmental data collection or search and rescue.



very-high-resolution optical observation, electronic intelligence, ultra-secure telecommunications and space situational awareness all help to assure citizens’ peace and security.


Organization chart