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Safran, committed to responsible use of space

Environment

Space harbors a largely unexplored potential for services and applications, in the service of sovereignty, meteorology or even a better understanding of the history of the universe. However, its resources are not unlimited: the growth of space activities must be accompanied by good practices to preserve space for future generations. Here's how Safran Electronics & Defense is committed to the responsible use of space.

Space

What does "responsible use of space" mean? It's a development model for space activities that ensures sustainable and secure access to resources, for the benefit of the citizens of today and tomorrow," sums up Jean-Marie Bétermier, EVP Space GBU at Safran Electronics & Defense. This ambition is based on the establishment of clear, globally shared standards, but also on the implementation of cutting-edge technologies, such as those offered by Safran Data Systems, Safran Spacecraft Propulsion, Safran Reosc and Syrlinks, brought together within the Space Division of Safran Electronics & Defense." 

Over the years, space has become an essential tool in the fight against climate change. Satellites make a major contribution in this field, providing reliable data essential for monitoring over 60% of the crucial variables in climate change. Thanks to satellites, organizations such as NASA, NOAA (U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), ESA (European Space Agency) and Eumetsat (European meteorological satellite agency) are able to establish links between ocean conditions, temperature and sea level. Space also plays a key role in locating CO emissions2 , monitoring deforestation and detecting sources of pollution, thus helping to preserve the Earth. 

Development of environmentally-friendly space activities

Against a backdrop of exponential growth, the space industry is facing major environmental challenges linked to production, launch emissions, re-entry of space objects into the Earth's atmosphere, and so on.

To reduce this environmental footprint, Safran made a commitment in January 2022 alongside players in the French space industry, co-signing the 10 proposals of the SpacEarth initiative for a space that serves life on Earth. "We all share the firm determination to adopt a responsible approach to our development," said Jean-Marie Bétermier.

Space's contribution to the climate challenge

Europe has embraced the issue of space's contribution to the climate challenge through various programs, including the European Space Agency's (ESA) Copernicus program. Copernicus satellites collect data on temperature, greenhouse gases, vegetation cover and air quality, which are then used by scientists to better understand the causes and effects of climate change. As part of this program, Safran Electronics & Defense supplies the satellites with optical components such as mirrors, dioptric sub-assemblies and filters - essential technology for guaranteeing image and data quality.

Wetrack : stay aware 24/7, 365 days a year

Towards a debris-free space

With more and more satellites being launched into orbit, particularly mega-constellations, the issue of debris in space (end-of-life satellites, rocket body failures, launcher upper stages, etc.) is becoming a major concern for players in the sector. It is therefore essential to limit their development: this is the aim of the French Law on Space Operations (LOS), which requires, for example, the de-orbiting of launcher upper stages. This law, which many other countries in Europe and around the world are considering adopting, also requires satellites to be de-orbited at the end of their life.

To move towards a debris-free space, the most important thing is first and foremost to know what's in orbit: both debris and satellites. In June 2023, Safran invested in Vyoma, a startup specializing in space debris monitoring. Vyoma will deploy a fleet of satellites equipped with highly miniaturized telescopes such as the SEEING 230 Detect to identify and catalog space debris: they will provide a fine measurement complement to observations already made from ground-based telescopes. Space situational awareness is a combination of several measurements: optical observations, radar observations and observations in the radio-frequency communications spectrum. It is also in this area that Safran contributes to satellite identification, maneuver detection and alerting through its WeTrack™ service: a global network of radio frequency sensors that tracks satellites through their radio emissions.

Electric hydrogen chamber valve (left) and SpaceNaute (right)

Reusables: a responsible way to extend and perpetuate access to space

Today, the space industry must demonstrate the necessary technical performance, while at the same time adhering to a policy of sustainability. In this context, Safran Electronics & Defense is participating in three European reusable launcher projects (Callisto, Thémis and MaiaSpace), and is designing the instrumentation required for the reusable launcher's first stage descent phases. 

Inertial navigation systems supplied by Safran Electronics & Defense and Safran Sensing Technologies Norway improve launcher trajectory, both during launch and re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere for reusable launchers. Safran Electronics & Defense's SpaceNaute inertial unit, the most advanced in terms of mass and volume, is at the heart of the Ariane 6 launcher. A precise launch into the right orbit, thanks to the accuracy of an inertial unit, also saves up to several years of satellite life, by avoiding costly displacement in space against the Earth's gravity.

PPS 5000, Hall Effect Thruster

Services in orbit: fact or fiction?

With New Space, the industrial and economic revolution in space, it has become essential to have satellites capable of refueling, repairing and even building other satellites in orbit. With its extraordinary service life of over 20,000 qualified hours in operation, Safran's PPS®5000 engine, a benchmark in electric propulsion, enables these space tugs, in-orbit service stations and other space manufacturing plants to provide services without cluttering or polluting space.

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