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École Polytechnique, Thales Alenia Space, ArianeGroup and the École Polytechnique Foundation Inaugurate a New Academic Sponsorship Program

In response to student requests and the ambitions of the Student Space Center at École Polytechnique, Hervé Derrey (CEO of Thales Alenia Space), André-Hubert Roussel (CEO of ArianeGroup), Yves Laszlo (Provost of École Polytechnique), and Jean-Paul Cottet (Executive Director of the École Polytechnique Foundation) inaugurate the “Space: Science and Space Challenges” sponsorship program, in order to increase academic activities in the space field.
Centered around aerospace themes, the objective of the academic sponsorship program “Space: Science and Space Challenges”, since the official signature in July 2019, is to respond to students’ interests on these topics. It offers courses relevant to careers in space and helps to develop space-related projects within the Student Space Center at École Polytechnique. Today, Hervé Derrey (CEO of Thales Alenia Space), André-Hubert Roussel (CEO of ArianeGroup), Yves Laszlo (Provost of École Polytechnique), and Jean-Paul Cottet (Executive Director of the École Polytechnique Foundation) come together to inaugurate the sponsorship program, which combines the excellence of École Polytechnique’s Research Center with the industrial activities of its patrons.
Led by Pascal Chabert, CNRS (French National Center for Scientific Research) Research Director at the Plasma Physics Laboratory[1] and professor at École Polytechnique, and with the assistance of Jean-François Roussel, Director of the Physics Instrumentation Environment Space Department at ONERA (the French Aerospace Lab), the program associates the students of the Ingénieur Polytechnicien Program at École Polytechnique with the projects of the Student Space Center. These projects range from the realization of launchers or nano-satellites, called CubeSat, to more fundamental studies in observation and astrophysics.
Thales Alenia Space and ArianeGroup, patrons of the program and world-renowned experts in the space field, offer their in-depth knowledge in order to help students carry out space-related projects. They collaborate on ambitious projects that can last multiple years and which require several teams of students, as is the case for the development of the CubeSat IonSat, an electrically-powered satellite.
Concluded for a period of five years, the “Space: Science and Space Challenges” sponsorship program began in July 2019 and has already made it possible to create a specialization track for 3rd year students in the Ingénieur Polytechnicien Program at École Polytechnique. This specialization track, titled “Science and Space Challenges”, is based on fundamental courses in Physics, Applied Mathematics or Mechanics as well as project-based teaching from researchers and engineers from the École Polytechnique Research Center, ONERA, or patrons of the program. The CNES (French National Center for Space Studies) has also showed its support for the program by creating a training program in Toulouse on space vehicles which is dedicated to students.
Thanks to these different actions, its interdependence between students, patron and partner support, and the excellence of its teaching aspects and projects, the program “Space: Science and Space Challenges” meets students’ expectations when it comes to the field of space, and helps to accompany them in their projects on the topic.
Head of the Sponsorship Program
A specialist in cold plasmas and plasma thrusters, Pascal Chabert is a Research Director at the CNRS (French National Center for Scientific Research) and a professor at École Polytechnique. Following a post-doctoral degree at the University of California, Berkeley, he joined the Plasma Physics Laboratory (LPP) in 2000 and was director of the lab from 2015 to 2020. Recognized for his work with international awards, Pascal Chabert became Head of the “Space: Science, and Space Challenges” sponsorship program when it was created in July 2019. In charge of the “Science and Space Challenges” specialization track (offered during the 3rd year of the Ingénieur Polytechnicien Program at École Polytechnique) since September 2019, he also supervises the activities linked to the Student Space Center at École Polytechnique, alongside Antoine Tavant, the Center’s Technical Director.

[1] LPP (A joint research unit between the CNRS/École polytechnique – Institut Polytechnique de Paris/Sorbonne Université/Observatoire de Paris/Université Paris-Saclay)

ABOUT THE ÉCOLE POLYTECHNIQUE FOUNDATION / Created in 1987 by twenty leading French companies at the request of Bernard Esambert (Class of 1954), the Chairman of École Polytechnique Board of Directors at the time, and with the support of the Alumni Association, the École Polytechnique Foundation builds bridges between the business world and École Polytechnique, including its students and research professors. The Foundation is a recognized public-benefit organization that works to promote École Polytechnique. This status entitles it to receive gifts and bequests from both individuals and companies. The funds raised are directed to École Polytechnique programs, facilities, students, and research professors.

ABOUT THALES ALENIA SPACE / Drawing on over 40 years of experience and a unique combination of skills, expertise and cultures, Thales Alenia Space delivers cost-effective solutions for telecommunications, navigation, Earth observation, environmental management, exploration, science and orbital infrastructures. Governments and private industry alike count on Thales Alenia Space to design satellite-based systems that provide anytime, anywhere connections and positioning, monitor our planet, enhance management of its resources, and explore our Solar System and beyond. Thales Alenia Space sees space as a new horizon, helping to build a better, more sustainable life on Earth. A joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), Thales Alenia Space also teams up with Telespazio to form the parent companies’ Space Alliance, which offers a complete range of services. Thales Alenia Space posted consolidated revenues of approximately 2.15 billion euros in 2019 and has around 7,700 employees in nine countries.

ABOUT ARIANEGROUP / ArianeGroup develops and delivers innovative and competitive solutions for civilian and military space launch systems, using the most advanced propulsion technologies. It is the prime contractor for the European launchers Ariane 5 and Ariane 6, for which it provides the design and the entire production chain, up to the marketing by its subsidiary Arianespace, as well as the missiles of the French ocean deterrent force. An internationally recognized specialist in equipment and propulsion for space applications, ArianeGroup, together with its subsidiaries, also brings its expertise to other industrial sectors. 50/50 joint venture between Airbus and Safran, the group employs more than 9,000 highly qualified people in France and in Germany. Its 2017 turnover was calculated at €3.4 billion.

ABOUT ÉCOLE POLYTECHNIQUE / École Polytechnique, also known as L’X, is the leading French institution combining top-level research, academics, and innovation at the cutting-edge of science and technology. Its various undergraduate and graduate-level programs – Bachelor of Science, Ingénieur Polytechnicien (Master’s level program), Master’s, and PhD – are highly selective and promote a culture of excellence with a strong emphasis on science, anchored in humanist traditions. As a widely internationalized university, École Polytechnique offers a variety of international programs and attracts a growing number of foreign students and researchers from around the globe (currently 40% of students and 40% of faculty members).

École Polytechnique offers an exceptional education to prepare bright men and women to excel in top-level key positions and lead complex and innovative projects which meet the challenges of 21st century society, all while maintaining a keen sense of their civil and social responsibilities. With its 23 laboratories, 22 of which are joint research units with the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), the École Polytechnique Research Center explores the frontiers of interdisciplinary knowledge to provide major contributions to science, technology, and society. École Polytechnique is a founding member of Institut Polytechnique de Paris.


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