Space in France with CNES

Since its creation in 1961, CNES (National Center for Space Studies) has proposed and implemented France’s space policy under the supervision of the Ministry of the Economy, Finance and Industrial and Digital Sovereignty (in charge of French space policy), the Ministry of the Armed Forces and the Ministry of Higher Education and Research.

The budget available to CNES (€2.566 billion in 2022, including €1.184 billion contribution to the European Space Agency) demonstrates the very high priority given by public authorities to Space. With €36 per year per inhabitant, the budget that France devotes to civil space activities is the 3rd in the world, after that of the United States and Luxembourg.

At the crossroads of the worlds of research and industry, CNES supports the national space ecosystem, major prime contractors and small businesses alike, in conquering international markets. CNES is also a shareholder in several commercial companies, thus providing state support for strategic activities. In addition, the Connect by CNES support system has been set up to connect the Center’s technical teams with companies seeking support in its areas of expertise.

A true vector of innovation in the service of employment, 80% of the CNES budget goes to French industry and research laboratories for the development of new technologies, supporting nearly 20,000 jobs in France.

International Cooperation

CNES has always turned its space policy towards the international community, having developed partnerships with more than 70 States or agencies, both with the major space powers (within which CNES has permanent representatives) but also with the newer incoming players.

Space cooperation between France and the United States is one of the oldest and most emblematic in the scientific and technical fields: France is one of the very first partners of the United States in the space field and vice versa.

This cooperation, which is aimed at institutional, industrial and academic stakeholders, is based on both scientific and operational themes:

Earth Sciences, including historic collaborations in oceanography and altimetry for more than 40 years (Topex-Poseidon, Jasons, SWOT, etc.)
Planetary exploration with emblematic participation in Mars programs (Curiosity, Insight, Mars 2020 and soon Mars Sample Return)
Sciences of the Universe, particularly in the fields of astrophysics and heliophysics (JWST, LISA, Solar Orbiter, etc.)
Operation of the International Space Station
Space surveillance and space traffic management

The CNES Office in the United States

The CNES office has been present in Washington D.C. since 1965! Located within the French Embassy, it ensures both the role of representing CNES in the United States and that of Space Service for the benefit of the Ambassador, working in close collaboration with the Office for Science and Technology of the French Embassy, and with all the services of the diplomatic system established in the United States.

Through these activities, the Space Service ensures two main missions:

As Space Advisor within the Embassy:

Serving French diplomacy, particularly the Franco-American diplomatic relationship, by relying on historic and fruitful space cooperation
Represent French space policy to local space stakeholders (public and private, French, European, American and foreign)
Inform and advise the Ambassador on French space policy and relations with the United States
Take an active part in the exchange of information with the various embassy services involved in issues relating to the space domain
Liaise with American public entities for space affairs

As a CNES Representative:

Represent the interests of CNES to local space stakeholders
With the CNES Europe and International Department, propose, develop, coordinate and support cooperation and exchanges between space players and contribute to the emergence of new sustainable cooperation, particularly with NASA and NOAA.
Ensure strategic, programmatic, technical and scientific monitoring of American space
Prepare space missions in cooperation with the United States
Promote co-development and take on the role of mediator of international space activity

Useful Links

Subscription to press reviews, notes on American space and Franco-American cooperation;
CNES Office website
CNES website
Connect By CNES website
Website for The Office for Science and Technology
Website for the Embassy of France in Washington DC

Thomas Lesage

Deputy Representative, CNES
(since 2022)

+1 (202) 944-6579
[email protected]
[email protected]


Space Counselor and CNES Representative
(since 2019)

+1 (202) 944-6223 [email protected]


Deputy Representative, CNES
(since 2023)

+1 (202) 944-6071
[email protected]
[email protected]

CNES Representatives around the Globe

In light blue, the 51 countries that have signed one or more agreements with CNES.
In dark blue, the 7 countries that have signed one or more agreements with CNES and in which CNES has appointed a Permanent Representative
(see table below).