US, French Space Industry Meeting in DC This Week

French President Emmanuel Macron and VP Kamala Harris at NASA HQ in 2022. Image: NASA

The US is hosting the second US-France Comprehensive Space Dialogue this Wednesday, and most of the American space heavy hitters will be attending. 

How we got here: The comprehensive space dialogue was established during a 2021 bilateral meeting between VP Kamala Harris and French President Emmanuel Macron. It includes officials from across the French and US governments as well as industry representatives from both nations. 

“It’s a big deal because the US has only had one of these with one other country, which is Japan,” said Mike French, VP for space systems at the Aerospace Industries Association, which will host Wednesday’s meeting outside DC. 

Who’s who: 45+ companies will be part of the dialogue. AIA provided a list of the American participants, including: Amazon Kuiper, AWS, Axiom, BAE, BlackSky, Blue Origin, Boeing, COMSPOC, ExoAnalytic, Hawkeye 360, Hexcel, Kayhan, LeoLabs, Lockheed, Northrop, Planet, Rocket Lab, RTX, Slingshot, Space Tango, SpaceX, True Anomaly, Vast, Viasat, and Voyager. 

Talking points: Industry will have the chance to talk directly to the government about barriers to closer cooperation between the US and French space industrial bases. At the first meeting in November 2022, the conversation centered around four priorities, French said:

  • Market access: US companies wanted to be able to sell existing space capabilities to France, rather than the French closing the market to develop domestic capabilities.
  • Regulations and policies: Companies asked governments to streamline cyber regulations to make it easier to meet the requirements for both countries. They also raised concern about export control laws. 
  • Space sustainability: Industry urged the US and France to work together on space situational awareness data, so they don’t end up in a situation where one system is predicting a conjunction, while the other isn’t. 
  • Novel space: Countries need to coordinate oversight of things like mission authorization, so spacecraft can service foreign satellites in orbit. The companies also talked about US-French partnerships on commercial space station development.  

Top to-dos: Wednesday’s gathering will be a chance to get an update on what progress has been made since the group last came together 16 months ago, French said. Some areas where he expects an update include:

  • French investments in DC to help the commercial industry better connect to French and US markets
  • Commerce Department efforts to work with its European counterpart on SSA data sharing and transparency
  • Industry’s perspective on a review of space export control regulations that was announced at the last National Space Council meeting
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